Most of us may all have a serious coffee addiction now, but we’re sure that your parents discouraged you from having any caffeine when you were younger. A lot of parents are extremely strict about what their kids eat and drink, so coffee is completely out of the picture. But nowadays every other teenager is seen nursing a cup of coffee on their way to class. So, when does this change? Whether it’s an iced coffee while hanging out at the mall or a post-practice pick-me-up mocha, kids are consuming caffeinated beverages at an alarming rate. So, has drinking coffee become an everyday affair instead of a novelty at the age of 15 or 16? Is it even harmful to begin with? Can you give your kids coffee? This drink may seem like heaven in a cup for you, but if you’re wondering if it’s safe for your kids, we’ve got you covered. Read on to know more!
Is Coffee Bad For Kids?
As is always the case. Everything in moderation. Coffee isn’t particularly bad for your kid but there are a few concerning things to look into before you hand them their own cup every morning.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)strongly recommends that kids under the age of 12 not consume any quantity of caffeine on any given day. However, a paper published in the journal Pediatrics showed that around 73% of children and adolescents drink some amount of caffeine daily. And most of it comes from coffee, soda, or energy drinks. But the AAP does not condone this. According to The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, kids who are between 12 to 18 years old should consume no more than 100 mg of caffeine per day, which isn’t a lot of coffee at all.
Fat And Sugar:
Have you realized how any beverage your child orders in a coffee shop is doused with every form of sugar known to mankind? Cream, whipped cream, maple syrup, chocolate, caramel, the list is never ending. This significantly increases the amount of sugar and fat that they consume. And it can even likely reduce the intake of healthy beverages like water. This can be detrimental to them in the long run.
Side Effects Of Coffee For Kids
The body of a child is not the same as that of an adult. They are still growing and developing, which makes them that much more vulnerable. So, the side effects of coffee experienced by kids can be drastically different than those experienced by adults, and they can be much worse.
Here’s a list :
- Frequent urination and the risk of dehydration runs high when kids drink caffeinated drinks and coffee. Coffee is a diuretic, which means that high amounts can dehydrate children.
- It can even alter their mental state. A study showed that caffeine intake can be associated with increased feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Caffeine intake can lead to a poor sleep pattern as it can alter a child’s sleep cycle. This in turn can interrupt the growth of their brain and body.
- It can cause jitters and nervousness, and be the cause for an upset stomach and nausea.
- Enables a dependency on caffeine. Drinking coffee on a regular basis can become a habit and kids can suffer from withdrawal effects like adults do. This can include mood swings, tiredness, headaches and difficulty concentrating.
However, the biggest issue is that excessive amounts of caffeine can lead to a caffeine overdose. And this may require your little one to be medically treated. According to the AAP, symptoms of caffeine overdose can include vomiting, high blood pressure, racing heart, heart rhythm problems, and, less commonly, disorientation and hallucinations. Children and teens with health conditions such as heart issues, seizures, or even migraines can be more at risk for caffeine-related problems than others.
How Much Coffee Is Okay For Your Child?
According to the AAp, you’re not supposed to give your kid any coffee or caffeine at all. But if you’re okay with your kid having a small amount every now and then, there are some guidelines set by Canada that you can follow. Children and adolescents up to the age of 18 can drink 2.5 mg per kg of body weight each day. If your child is adamant about starting to drink caffeine because all their friends in the fifth grade are doing it, talk to their doctor first. They can recommend the right amount based on your child’s health condition.
It’s not the end of the world if your child consumes a little caffeine once in a blue moon, but it’s a whole other discussion if they’d like to drink coffee everyday. Make sure you take their physical and mental health into consideration and consult a pediatrician before you let them have a nice big cup.
- Caffeine in Foods, Government of Canada
- Trends in Caffeine Intake Among US Children and Adolescents, AAP
- Caffeine consumption and self-assessed stress, anxiety, and depression in secondary school children, NCBI