As adults, we are used to drinking tea and coffee in large quantities. If we feel tired, we grab an espresso, or if we want to ease the day in gently, we might opt for a latte with an extra spoonful of sugar. Either way, we tend not to consider the effects of all that caffeine. As adults, we are free to eat or drink whatever we like, but the same does not apply to our children and as their parents, it is our job to make sure they don’t eat or drink the wrong things.
Is it ok to let your kids drink coffee?
Many parents do not let their kids drink coffee. As adults, we see nothing wrong with drinking our fair share of artisan coffee or enjoying Keurig kcups at home, but if our kids ask to try a cup, the answer is a resounding “no”. The main reason for the reluctance to let kids drink coffee is the awareness that coffee contains high levels of caffeine, and as we all know, caffeine can be bad for us.
How Caffeine Affects the Body
Caffeine has many properties. Firstly, caffeine is a stimulant. When we drink coffee, the caffeine is absorbed into our central nervous system very quickly. This is why you feel the buzz not long after drinking a cup of strong coffee. In low doses, caffeine does not have much effect on an adult, but in children, the effects are more noticeable.
Young Children and Coffee
Children under the age of 12 should avoid caffeine entirely, so the consumption of coffee and other caffeinated drinks is inadvisable. Caffeine affects younger children in a number of ways. It can cause them to become hyperactive, affect their sleep patterns, and even decrease their ability to perform arithmetic.
A 12-ounce cup of regular coffee contains around 95mg of caffeine. Even as little as 4.5mg of caffeine is toxic to a child. The symptoms of caffeine toxicity include nausea and vomiting, agitation, and muscle cramps. Severe toxicity can cause heart palpitations, increased heart rate, and even fits.
Older Kids and Coffee
Older kids can drink one or two drinks per day that contain caffeine, so if they have a cup of coffee in the morning, it is OK for them to drink a cup of tea or a can of cola later on in the day. Do not forget, however, that caffeine is present in a wide number of different beverages, including hot chocolate, sports drinks and some soda drinks.
Different children have different tolerances to caffeine. Some kids will be wired on one small cup of coffee whereas another might not experience any side effects at all, even after three strong cups of java. Not all children like coffee – it can be rather bitter and is an acquired taste, even for adults.
Younger children should always avoid caffeinated drinks, including coffee, but for older children, coffee is OK as long as it is drunk in moderation. If your child does develop a taste for the brown stuff, buy in decaf instead. That way you get all the taste, minus the caffeine.