Is coffee good for kids? While coffee is a great drink for adults, the answer on when a person should start drinking it varies.
Coffee is a favorite morning drink, or late-night drink for many adults, depending on their schedule – and it’s clear why. Coffee gives a necessary energy boost that many people need to get through the workday. For some, the aroma itself can gear them up for the morning. And of course, for others that love the taste of coffee, it provides something to look forward to as well.
However, should your kids drink coffee, too? Is coffee good for your child’s health or not? If you’re wondering about this, read more because this article will briefly answer those questions. Let’s get started!
Is Coffee Bad for Kids?
If there is one major reason why we will worry about giving coffee to our kids, it is because coffee has a relatively moderate amount of caffeine.
Caffeine in itself is a stimulant, so the body must be prepared to handle it. On average, adults can handle caffeine when consumed in moderate amounts – although, some adults can consume only fewer amounts, while others can take more caffeine because of our differences in caffeine sensitivity and tolerance.
For kids, however, they typically can’t handle much caffeine simply because their bodies are smaller than those of adults. While there are situations and scenarios when coffee is okay for children, there are some things to be wary of. Below, you will see how caffeine can negatively affect children.
How Coffee Negatively Impacts Children
1) Caffeine can cause sleeping issues
Children ages 8-12 need as much as 10-11 hours of sleep every night in order to sustain their body while it grows. For teenagers and adults, they typically only need 8-9 hours of sleep. Caffeine can cause sleeping issues with adults, but even more so with kids even when consumed on a moderate amount. Most adults drink coffee for the energy boost, and when children drink it, the caffeine impacts them to a greater extent.
Not only that, but caffeine usually stays in our body for around 8 hours. If consumed at night or even near night-time, it can cause difficulty in sleeping.
Therefore, caffeine can be negative for children because it can interfere in their sleep – a crucial part in both their physical and mental development.
2) Calcium can hinder calcium absorption in your body
Since kids are in their development stage, both physically and mentally, it is important that they absorb every vitamin, mineral, and other nutrients in their body, including calcium. But what does caffeine have to do with calcium?
Caffeine can hinder our body’s absorption of calcium. For every 100mg of caffeine consumed, around 6mg of calcium is lost. This may have little to no effect on adults (though still bad, nevertheless), but for kids, they need as much calcium as possible to support their bone development process.
3) Coffee can harm your child’s oral health
Aside from caffeine, acidity is another concern when it comes to giving coffee to kids. One reason is their oral health – acid is simply bad for their teeth because it can wear and tear them, eventually leading to tooth damage. In fact, it’s not only for kids: even adults are advised to avoid or limit acidic drinks such as coffee or cola to protect our teeth and overall oral health.
But again, the impact on children is much more grave compared to adults when it comes to these effects because they are still in their growing phase of life. Children’s teeth are more susceptible to cavities because it takes years for their new enamel to harden once their baby tooth is replaced with adult ones. While coffee can potentially stain adult teeth as well, at least the enamel protects from long-term damage.
Studies have shown that children who drink coffee more often tend to have more oral health issues than those who don’t.
4) Coffee can add plenty of calories to kids
Now, coffee in itself can be lean with calories – that is, black coffee. But let’s be honest; will kids appreciate the bitter taste of black coffee? It’s unlikely.
On the other hand, adding cream and sugar will mean added calories, which can cause weight gain for children. It’s important that while children are growing and developing, they eat a diet that supports such growth. Adding a sugar-filled drink to their diet can be bad for both their physical weight but also for their brain growth.
5) Caffeine causes dehydration
Kids love to play, so they need plenty of water to rehydrates themselves. When we consume caffeine, our bodies remove water, so it can lead to dehydration if you’re not careful. This is especially true if one does not drink the standard amount of water every day. While children may drink plenty of water, it’s easier for both them and the parent to stay away from caffeine as they will then have to keep track of water intake.
6) Caffeine can cause troubled concentration
If a person has too much caffeine in his or her system, they can have difficulty concentrating on their respective tasks due to the caffeine’s stimulant properties. For kids, this is especially true because they can absorb caffeine easier due to their small body size.
With too much energy coming from caffeine, kids can have difficulty concentrating on activities in the classroom, during homework, and sometimes, even during play or leisure activities.
7) Caffeine can cause decreased appetite
Because of caffeine’s stimulating properties, it can cause a decrease in your kid’s appetite. This can negatively affect their growth as they need to eat and drink healthy foods to get the proper nutrition for their age. Also, a reduction in appetite can cause stomach problems for your kids and lead to more problems down the line.
8) Too much caffeine can cause caffeine dependence
The last thing we want for our children is that they become dependent on caffeine at a young age. This is already a problem for many adults, and you don’t want to start it early for your children.
This causes two problems, the first being, once they get used to caffeine, they may underperform if they don’t get the amount of caffeine they normally get. Number two: because they are already used to caffeine, they may suffer from caffeine withdrawal once their body fails to get its regular daily amount. For instance, they can suffer from headaches if they are not getting the caffeine their body craves.
These are just some of the negative effects caffeine and coffee can have on children. It is wise to keep caffeine and coffee away from children until they reach a proper age where the caffeine won’t hurt them dramatically.
Not to mention, these are just some of the side-effects of caffeine. If they get too much of it, they can develop a “caffeine overdose”, where things could get worse, especially considering how fragile their bodies are compared to adults.
Ultimately, caffeine is not good for kids to consume. It’s best if parents wait and, instead, just give them healthy foods that will sustain their physical and mental development needs.
But then the question remains: when can they start drinking it?
When Can Children Start Drinking Coffee?
The ideal age for someone to start drinking coffee ranges per body. Each body is different, which means it varies how they will react to coffee.
To stay on the safe side of things, it’s recommended that children wait until they are adults to start consuming caffeine. As an adult, their bodies can better handle the amount of caffeine that they are taking – of course, relative to their individual caffeine tolerance and sensitivity.
But, if your teenagers are really wanting to drink coffee, and you think its safe, it gets safer (health-wise) for kids to drink coffee after hitting puberty. Although the effects will still be more dramatic than compared to an adult body, caffeine will not affect much of their growth and development because they have grown past their largest development stage.
Lastly, if your kid is at least 10 years old and he or she just wants to take a sip of your coffee, it’s safe to do because they won’t feel the effects while simultaneously having an experience of how coffee tastes.
What the Experts Say About the Effects of Coffee (Caffeine) to Kids
While there are a variety of studies adn a range of research determining the proper age to start drinking coffee, there are a few outspoken doctors that have shared their opinions on the topic as well. Here’s just what some of the experts have to say about the effects of coffee (or caffeine in general) to kids.
Dr. Nicole Caldwell, the assistant professor of pediatrics at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, shared that kids should never have caffeine. Dr. Caldwell pointed out that caffeine is terrible for children because they have heightened sensitivity levels compared to adults when it comes to caffeine. This means caffeine hits their nervous system and stimulates it to a point of hyperactivity. At the same time, caffeine can also make kids more anxious and nervous.
On the other hand, Dr. Matthew Keefer, General Pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital located Los Angeles, California pointed out that caffeine won’t necessarily cause any harm other than the side effects that adults also face. But as he points out, “certainly, young children don’t need any caffeine at all.”
If an older child takes a cup of coffee or drinks a cola every once in a while, it will not be a big deal, and they shouldn’t see any long-term impacts.
Let them wait to try coffee as adults
In conclusion, caffeine is, at best, not harmful for kids to taste in small amounts, and at worst, it can cause a variety of side effects, which we mentioned above.
Perhaps, the best we can do is wait for them to grow up before they can enjoy the morning drink we all enjoy!
If you are on the lookout for coffee recipes, check out one of our recent posts on unique coffee drink recipes here. If you are in need of coffee beans, you can also shop all of our coffee beans here!