How much chocolate can I eat while breastfeeding?

Quick Answer

Most experts recommend limiting chocolate intake to 1-2 ounces (28-57g) per day while breastfeeding. Dark chocolate with a high cacao content is preferred over milk chocolate. Eating chocolate in moderation, as part of a balanced diet, is unlikely to harm your breastfed baby. However, some babies may be sensitive to compounds in chocolate that can cause fussiness, gas or diarrhea. Speak to your pediatrician if you notice any signs of intolerance after eating chocolate. Monitor your baby’s behavior and adjust your chocolate intake accordingly.

How Does Chocolate Affect Breast Milk?

The three main compounds in chocolate that can pass into breast milk and potentially affect your nursing baby are:


Chocolate contains small amounts of caffeine. An ounce of dark chocolate has around 12mg, milk chocolate has 5mg, while white chocolate has only trace amounts (1). Caffeine passes freely into breast milk. Consuming large amounts could potentially make your baby irritable or cause sleep disturbances (2). However, moderate chocolate intake is unlikely to cause issues. If your baby seems sensitive to caffeine, limit or avoid higher caffeine foods and drinks like chocolate, coffee and tea.


Theobromine is structurally similar to caffeine, and gives chocolate its stimulant effects. It passes into breast milk to a lesser extent than caffeine (3). Average consumption should not lead to excessive exposure. But higher intakes may cause fussiness or poor sleep. Theobromine levels are higher in dark vs milk or white chocolate (4).


Chocolate contains oxalates that bind to calcium, inhibiting its absorption (5). This is more of a concern for the mother than baby. High oxalate foods like chocolate, nuts and spinach can increase your risk of kidney stones when consumed in large amounts (6). Drink plenty of fluids and aim for calcium-rich foods like milk, yogurt and leafy greens to help offset chocolate’s oxalate content.

How Much Chocolate Is Safe While Breastfeeding?

Most experts agree that 1-2 ounces or 28-57g of chocolate per day should not cause issues for most nursing mothers. Stick to this suggested limit, and monitor your baby for signs of tolerance.

Dark chocolate is lower in sugar and higher in antioxidants than milk chocolate. It provides more nutritional benefits when consumed in moderation (7).

For comparison:
– 1 regular size chocolate bar (around 50g) exceeds the recommended daily amount.
– 1 ounce of chocolate is about the size of a regular chocolate square or 1-2 fun size/mini bars.
– 2 ounces is approximately half a large bar or 2 regular sized bars.

Aim for chocolate with a cacao content of at least 70% to get more antioxidants and less sugar. Select brands without added ingredients like nuts or caramel that can exacerbate intolerance.

Signs of Chocolate Intolerance

Most nursing mothers can handle a small daily chocolate treat without issue. But some babies are extra sensitive. Watch for these cues that your baby may not be tolerating the chocolate in your breast milk:

– Fussiness, crying or colicky behavior after feeds
– Spitting up or wet burps
– Gassiness, abdominal cramps or diarrhea
– Rash or eczema flare-ups
– Congested nose and watery eyes
– Disrupted sleep patterns or difficulty settling

If you notice any signs of intolerance, avoid chocolate for 2-3 weeks then try reintroducing a small amount. If symptoms recur, your baby may be sensitive and you should eliminate or limit chocolate until you finish breastfeeding.

Tips for Eating Chocolate While Breastfeeding

Follow these tips to safely enjoy chocolate during lactation:

Stick to the 1-2 ounce daily recommendation

Limit chocolate, including baking, desserts and cocoa beverages, to the suggested 1-2 ounce (28-57g) daily serving max.

Choose dark chocolate over milk/white

Select dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao for less sugar and more antioxidants.

Avoid chocolate layered or coated with problem ingredients

Candy containing nuts, caramel, nougat or other extras can exacerbate intolerance. Check labels and choose simpler, cleaner ingredients.

Pay attention to serving sizes

Read labels carefully or weigh your portion. It’s easy to unintentionally eat more than 1-2 ounces when grabbing a chocolate bar or baked good.

Drink plenty of fluids

Stay well hydrated to help minimize any effects from chocolate’s caffeine and oxalate content.

Eat calcium-rich foods

Have dairy, leafy greens, calcium-fortified foods and other good sources to increase calcium absorption.

Notice your baby’s reactions

Monitor for signs of intolerance and be prepared to cut back or eliminate chocolate if needed.

Wait 3-4 weeks before reintroducing

If your baby seems sensitive, eliminate chocolate for a few weeks then try a small amount again.

Consider supplements or recipes

For antoxidant benefits without the stimulating compounds, try cacao powder or nibs in smoothies or baking. Or use chocolate-flavored supplements.

Health Effects of Chocolate Components

Let’s take a more in-depth look at how the various compounds in chocolate can impact you and your baby during breastfeeding:


Caffeine easily crosses into breast milk. Levels peak around 1 hour after consumption and can remain elevated for over 10 hours (8).

Babies metabolize caffeine slowly. Consuming high amounts could make your baby irritable, cause sleep issues or impair iron absorption (9).

However, moderate chocolate intake provides only a small caffeine dose. 20-200mg daily is considered safe for breastfeeding mothers. Up to 300mg is acceptable, but monitor your baby for any signs of fussiness, poor sleeping or gastrointestinal upset (10).


Theobromine levels are highest in dark chocolate. It stimulates the central nervous system but is less potent than caffeine (11).

Not all is absorbed and only a small portion excreted in breast milk. But babies’ immature metabolism can cause it to build up.

High exposure may potentially cause irritability, sleeplessness or digestive issues. However, average chocolate consumption does not provide extreme amounts.

If your baby seems sensitive, limit or avoid chocolate and other sources like tea, energy drinks and cola.


Chocolate contains oxalates that bind calcium, preventing optimal absorption.

Over time, high dietary oxalates could increase your kidney stone risk by excreting extra calcium in urine (12).

For breastfeeding mothers, aim for 800-1500mg calcium daily from foods plus any supplements. Drink plenty of fluids to dilute oxalates (13).


Chocolate, especially milk chocolate, is high in sugar.

Eating excessive added sugar while breastfeeding may contribute to weight gain and undermine a healthy diet (14).

Aim for less than 10% calories from added sugars. Select dark chocolate with little or no added sugar.

Cacao Flavonoids

Chocolate provides antioxidant flavonoids like epicatechin, catechin and procyanidins, especially when cacao content is high (15).

Dark chocolate’s flavonoids may benefit heart health. But more research on breastfeeding effects is needed (16).

For antioxidants without the stimulants, try cacao powder or nibs in smoothies or baking.

Chocolate Alternatives When Breastfeeding

If your baby is sensitive to chocolate or you wish to limit caffeine, sugar and oxalates, these alternatives can help satisfy your sweet tooth:


Carob is made from a legume pod. It’s naturally sweet, caffeine-free and contains less fat and sugar than chocolate (17). Look for carob chips, powder or bars. Use in moderation as carob still contains oxalates.

Vanilla or Fruit-Flavored Desserts

Enjoy yogurt, puddings, baked goods, ice cream and other treats flavored with vanilla, fruit or non-chocolate ingredients. Check labels for hidden cocoa powder.

Maca Powder

Maca is an antioxidant-rich root that provides a malt-like, nutty flavor. Add to smoothies, oatmeal or desserts for a chocolate-y taste without the oxalates or stimulants.

Cacao Butter

The fat from cacao beans gives a rich, creamy mouthfeel. Use instead of chocolate in recipes or melt over fruit. Provides chocolate’s smoothness without the caffeine or theobromine.

Raw Cacao Nibs or Powder

Minimally processed cacao contains flavonoids without high levels of oxalates, caffeine or theobromine. Use raw cacao powder in baking, smoothies or hot cocoa. Or sprinkle nibs on yogurt, fruit or desserts.

The Bottom Line

Most breastfeeding mothers can safely eat 1-2 ounces of chocolate per day, ideally dark chocolate, as part of a nutritious diet. This small treat is unlikely to cause infant intolerance or adverse health effects for mom. However, some babies may be extra sensitive to chocolate’s stimulant compounds. Notice your baby’s reaction after eating chocolate. Limit or avoid chocolate if you see signs of intolerance like fussiness, gassiness or changes in sleep patterns. Substitute chocolate-flavored, caffeine-free foods like carob, fruit or maca powder if needed. Moderation and mindfulness when indulging your chocolate cravings can allow you to enjoy it while nursing your baby.

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