Restless Baby? Maybe it's drinking too much caffeine

When Megan Brooks looks into the eyes of her 4 month old son Jacob she sees nothing but love--mixed in with a few sleepless nights.

"It's just exhausting,” Megan said. “Especially being a new mom and working mom."

Megan likes her morning cup of Joe--but resists the urge to drink too much.

"I limit my coffee intake to two cups per day,” Megan said. “I didn't drink coffee when I was pregnant and now that I am breast feeding I have introduced it to get me through the day, get through those tired mornings."

And so that Jacob can sleep more at night. Babies can become irritable and wide awake when too much caffeine is consumed through mother’s milk.

Becky Law is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant at Texas Health Fort Worth.

In general mothers are advised not to consume more than 300mg of caffeine--which is about 3 cups of coffee a day.

But Law said the amount can vary depending on the mom, baby and the strength of the coffee.

"We really don't put it on a checklist of things to eat or not eat just because there can be so many different foods and drinks that affect babies,” Law said. “We really just don't say don't have it because too many moms just can't get by without a cup of coffee or a soda or whatever they are used to."

Law said caffeine is used in the neo-natal intensive care unit to stimulate breathing in pre-mature babies and mothers of pre-mature babies are advised not to drink coffee when they go home with their child.

If you've ever had too much caffeine--you know how the jolt feels.

"Caffeine in infants is going to be the same thing you're going to see in mom,” Law warned. “ It's going to have an increased heart rate it's going to be wide awake, alert, maybe fussy. It just kind of depends on the child but the exact same thing you see in moms."

Megan worries that drinking a third cup during the day may create a vicious cycle--the caffeine keeping her awake during the day and Jacob up all night.

She's struck a perfect balance that's safe as mother's milk.

"I was very happy to drink it once I had the baby because I missed it a lot."