How much coffee is too much coffee?

You may recall from science class that the body’s cells use a special fuel called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). As ATP is used in brain cells, it leaves behind a heap of plain adenosine. By the end of the day, so much adenosine builds up in each cell that it starts a chain reaction that creates “cobwebs” in our brains, forcing our minds to lose focus and our eyes to close.

That’s where coffee can come to the rescue!

Caffeine masks natural fatigue and blocks the brain from recognizing that adenosine levels are high, which stops that “I’m sleepy” message so you feel wide-awake. Caffeine also causes the release of adrenaline–providing a little jolt of nervous energy–and it boosts dopamine, one of the brain’s natural “feel-good” chemicals.

So why is too much coffee bad for me and my baby?

Caffeine may seem like a tempting quick fix when you’re short on sleep…but beware! Caffeine can pass  into the breast milk and can cause your baby to become irritable and more awake. And if your baby isn’t sleeping...chances are you won’t sleep either.

Furthermore, caffeine lingers in the body for over 12 hours (a quarter of the caffeine from a noontime cup of coffee is still in your blood at midnight). This can keep you from being able to sink into deep sleep. And the fatigue from too little deep sleep may make you feel even more tired, irritable and depressed and make you reach for even more caffeine the next day.

Final Thoughts on Coffee and Infants

My suggestion? Limit your coffee to just a morning cup. If you’re exhausted, try to take a nap, rather than mask your fatigue with caffeine (or with similar stimulants in tea, cola, energy drinks, supplements, or chocolate).

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.