Parents sometimes wonder whether or not it is okay to eat chocolate while breastfeeding. Chocolate contains very small amounts of caffeine and larger amounts of a related substance called theobromine. Theobromine is a stimulant which has an effect on the body similar to caffeine. Although there is no established safe daily intake of theobromine, the amount in chocolate will not likely be a problem for your baby unless you are consuming very large quantities.
The amount of theobromine in chocolate varies. In general, because theobromine is found in cocoa solids, dark chocolate contains higher levels of theobromine, milk chocolate has moderate amounts and white chocolate very little. Although dark chocolate has higher levels of theobromine, most health professionals consider it to be the healthiest option because it contains lower levels of both sugar and fat. Most people can enjoy chocolate as they normally would while breastfeeding without any negative impact on their babies.
One case: a newborn infant developed irritability and jitteriness, inconsolable crying, excessive sucking and sleep problems. The mother did not drink coffee but did consume about 250g (8oz) of cocoa and chocolate daily. She slowly reduced her chocolate intake over 10 days and her baby’s behaviour returned to normal.
If you think your baby may be reacting to the amount of chocolate you eat, consider cutting down the amount you consume until the symptoms subside. If your baby’s symptoms are related to you eating chocolate, they should be resolved within 3 to 7 days.
So, go ahead and enjoy chocolate - in moderation!
For more information about caffeine and breastfeeding see Caffeine and Breastfeeding.
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National Library of Medicine. (2022, June 20). Chocolate. Drugs and Lactation Database (Lactmed). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532500/
Mohrbacher, Nancy. (2020). Breastfeeding Answers: A Guide for Helping Families, Second Edition. Nancy Mohrbacher Solutions, Inc.