Coffee for Babies?

Patient Expert

Research out of the University of Toronto suggests that babies who are given caffeine have a different sleep pattern and may develop sleep abnormalities. But health problems, especially sleep related, may develop much earlier, well before the baby is born.


There has long been conflicting arguments for and against drinking coffee during pregnancy. Drinking coffee was once thought to cause miscarriages. However, a more recent study tells shows that 3 cups of coffee or less during the second half of pregnancy should not harm the pregnancy, but it is still problematic, and could cause or worsen nausea, sleeplessness and mood swings.

Breast feeding

Mother's milk is the healthiest food for a baby. One of the benefits of breast feeding is that breast milk contains ingredients that help a baby sleep. These ingredients, called nucleotides, vary during a 24 hour period, with the highest concentration occurring at night.

Remember, whatever you put in your system when breast feeding goes into the breast milk, and therefore into your baby. Coffee is a stimulant and could cancel out the sleep promoting properties of breast milk. When breast feeding, a mother should either cut out or drink coffee in moderation.

Coffee to a Baby

And this brings us right back to the effects of giving coffee to a baby. It may be "cute" to see baby slurping coffee off a spoon right along with mother slurping coffee out of her cup. Or, heaven forbid - drinking a coffee and milk mixture out of the bottle. This habit may have no repercussions right now - or it may cause some sleeplessness. But when this experiment was carried out using rats, those given coffee as babies slept less, had fragmented sleep patterns, and developed a faster breathing rate.

There's an old myth that says if a child drinks coffee, his or her growth will be stunted. This may or may not be true, but the habit of drinking coffee, especially in large amounts, has been shown to be detrimental to a baby's health.

Best idea? Cut out coffee altogether. It's best, to avoid side effects, to cut down consumption slowly instead of quitting "cold turkey."