If you are a coffee lover and a parent, then you’ve probably had your kids asking if they can try the coffee that mom or dad loves to drink every morning. After all, it’s not uncommon for kids to want to try the same things that you do. But for many parents, a common dilemma is whether or not you should let your kids try coffee, and if so, what age is appropriate for them to drink it? Is it best for your child to only drink decaf coffee? Before you make this important decision as a parent, it’s a good idea to get some more information on how coffee could affect your child’s health. Keep reading to get some answers to some common questions, and information that can ultimately help you decide whether or not to let your child have a cup of coffee.
Is Coffee Bad for Kids?
Are kids allowed to drink coffee? What’s the best age to drink coffee for kids? The main reason why parents worry about letting their kids drink coffee is the caffeine content in this drink. Caffeine will affect everybody differently based on individual tolerance levels; however, it can have a bigger impact on kids due to the fact that they are simply not used to it. Along with this, kids are smaller than adults, which reduces their tolerance to caffeine and may cause them to be more sensitive to its effects.
Some of the main effects of caffeine to be aware of if you are considering setting a caffeine limit for 13 year old child include:
Too much caffeine can cause sleep issues in people of any age, so this is something to consider if you are deciding are kids allowed to drink coffee. Can children drink coffee is ultimately down to the parents, but most parents prefer to wait until their child is a certain age to allow them to drink it, and only allow it earlier in the day as the last thing you want is a child who is struggling to sleep at night. Bear in mind that caffeine can stay in the body for up to eight hours. Kids aged between eight and twelve need between 10-11 hours of sleep each night, while teens need around 8-9 hours.
2. Stomach Issues
The stimulating nature of caffeine can sometimes lead to stomach upset in people of any age. However, for kids drinking coffee, this can be heightened as they may be more sensitive. Along with this, stomach problems can also occur as caffeine can cause a decrease in appetite. This is not good for children, who need a healthy and nourishing diet to grow and develop healthily.
3. Concentration Issues
Can a 13 year old drink coffee? Can a 12 year old drink coffee? While your child may be fine drinking a small amount of coffee from around this age, you will probably want to considering putting a limit on how much they drink, or encouraging them to drink decaf coffee since too much caffeine can cause concentration issues, which is not good for a child in school. Along with this, if you are wondering can 10 year olds drink coffee or can 9 year olds drink coffee, it might not be a good idea as caffeine can cause hyperactive behavior in these kids, especially as at this age, they are usually quite full of energy anyway.
4. Caffeine Dependence
When somebody has caffeine regularly, they can become dependent on it, and even get headaches and other physical issues if they don’t get it. While this might be something that you can get used to as an adult, it’s not fair on kids to let them have something that they may become dependent on and then deal with withdrawal symptoms afterward. Many parents decide to wait until their child is a teenager for this reason or give them decaf coffee only.
If you’re a responsible parent, then you will want to make sure that your child has a healthy and balanced diet and is consuming the right amount of calories for their age and activity levels. Most kids are not going to enjoy black coffee due to their developing taste buds, and while adding milk, cream or sugar might make it more enjoyable for kids, this will also add additional calories that can lead to weight gain if their diet isn’t adjusted accordingly.
Since coffee is an acidic drink, this can lead to tooth damage. Can babies drink coffee should never even be a question since it is just too acidic for their little bodies and their baby teeth to handle. A 2 year old drinking coffee might face issues with their teeth in later life since the acid in the coffee will weaken the teeth and cause the tooth enamel to decline, which can increase the risk of cavities. Children are at a higher risk of cavities than adults as it takes longer for new enamel to harden after the adult teeth replace the milk teeth. Studies have found that children who drink coffee tend have more oral health issues, which is something to keep in mind as a parent. If you are considering letting your older child drink coffee, a low-acid blend might be a better choice.
Caffeine causes elimination of water from the body, so it can lead to getting dehydrated faster, which can come with a whole other range of problems for your child including dry skin, feeling fatigued, and headaches. This is especially true if somebody is drinking coffee without drinking a proper amount of water throughout the day, so if you are planning to allow your child to drink coffee, make sure that they are getting an ample amount of water too.
What Age is Best to Let Kids Drink Coffee?
Can 10 year olds drink coffee? From around this age, it is usually safe to let your child have a few sips of your coffee but be wary about letting them have an entire cup to themselves. If your ten or eleven year old child really wants to be like mom or dad and have their own cup of coffee, a low-acid, decaf blend is the best option. Hot chocolate and herbal teas are also excellent alternatives to give to children who just want a hot drink in the morning instead of milk or juice. At what age can a child drink coffee? Ideally, you should wait until after puberty to allow your child to drink a full cup of caffeinated coffee. At this point, their body will be better able to handle the caffeine, and they will have had a growth spurt, so their growth or development should not be affected.
How Much Caffeine Can Kids Have?
As with the majority of food and drink, moderation is key when it comes to letting your child have caffeine. Guidelines suggest that you should limit your child’s caffeine intake to no more than 45mg a day. Bear in mind that caffeine is present in more than just coffee, and your child might also be getting it from things like tea, chocolate, and some sodas like Coca-Cola and Diet Coke. It’s a good idea to prevent your child from having coffee each day as this can lead to some of the problems mentioned earlier such as caffeine dependence.
45mg is equal to approximately a half cup of coffee, around 4-6oz. It’s important as a parent to monitor how many mg of caffeine your child consumes and the number of times they have coffee per week, to make sure that they avoid the health risks. Offering decaf coffee to your child is a better way to avoid these issues while still allowing them to drink coffee. You can get plenty of decaf coffee brands that come in a range of fun flavors that kids will likely enjoy. Remember that children tend to have a lot more natural energy and compared to adults, probably won’t need that caffeine kick in the morning like many of us do.
Good Coffee Alternatives for Kids
A baby drinking coffee is never a good idea and at younger ages, kids shouldn’t be given coffee as the health risks are just too high. Children do not need coffee, but the good news is that there are plenty of alternatives that they will probably enjoy even more. Younger children and toddlers will usually be able to get a ‘babycino’ from most coffee shops; this is just frothy, warm milk with some chocolate powder. Hot chocolate and cream-based frappes are also great options for kids. While they’re probably not something you want your child to drink every day, they can be a nice treat from time to time with plenty of flavors that are probably going to be more appealing to children compared to coffee. If you make coffee at home, with a single serve brewer, you can get hot chocolate and other non-coffee hot drink options in K-cup pods or Nespresso pods that are great for kids.
As a parent, deciding when to let your child drink coffee can be tough. Ideally, you should wait until they are older and have gone through puberty, but letting your child have a few sips of coffee from around aged 10 is usually fine. You will probably find that at a young age, children aren’t a huge fan of how coffee tastes anyway.