Years from having a baby, I still worry altogether too frequently about the difficulty of giving up coffee during and after pregnancy. That's why I sat alert upon reading this NPR Shots post delivering the news that turning to caffeine during the sleep-deprived first few months of motherhood might not contribute to infants' nighttime waking, as has been widely believed.
Research from Brazil's Universidade Federal de Pelotas followed 885 babies, all born in 2004 and in the same city, to investigate whether a mother's caffeine consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding led to frequent nocturnal awakening in her 3-month-old infant. From Shots:
Crying and colic at 3 months old, as well as frequent night waking at 12 months, were not affected by a mom's caffeine intake.
It's not clear why the infants' sleep wasn't affected. The babies might have developed a tolerance to caffeine while in the womb, [Marlos Rodrigues Domingues, PhD, co-author of the study] says. But other studies have found no caffeine metabolites in the urine of babies whose mothers drink coffee, suggesting that the babies don't absorb caffeine the way older children and adults do.
In their study, which was published in Pediatrics, the researchers conclude, "Caffeine consumption during pregnancy and by nursing mothers seems not to have consequences on sleep of infants at the age of 3 months." But as Shots' Nancy Shutes points out:
That leaves the question of what helps get a baby to sleep in the first place.