For many years, scientists have been arguing about the benefits and dangers of coffee for kids. According to the 2017 industry report published by the National Coffee Association, the percentage of American teens aged 13 to 18 who drink coffee on a daily basis had risen to 37% (against 14% in 2014). The number of small coffee drinkers is growing, but why that sounds horrifying? Can children drink coffee? If yes, when you can offer your kid the first cup of beverage? Let’s answer those questions.
Impact Of Coffee On Child’s Body
Like any caffeine-containing product, coffee beans have an effect on the human body at any age. The beverage contains caffeine, fats, amino acids, sucrose, organic acids, and tannins – all of those elements have an impact on well-being. However, it is easier for an adult to cope with the neutralization of harmful coffee effects – the child’s body does not yet produce enough ferments for that.
In a small dosage, caffeine:
- Activates the nervous system;
- Reduces tiredness and drowsiness;
- Improves concentration, brain activity;
- Improves mood;
- Accelerates metabolism;
- Has a diuretic effect.
Read also: 12 Herbal Teas For Kids
However, there is a bunch of harmful properties and non-comforting consequences:
- Caffeine energizes for 3-4 hours: after that, the energy will end and be replaced by apathy and weakness.
- In small kids, coffee violates the stable functioning of the nervous system, which might cause a frequent change of mood, causeless tantrums.
- Caffeine has a strong negative effect on hormonal balance. Contributing to the production of important hormones in the body, it can provoke a malfunction of the hormonal system in childhood and adolescence.
- Stimulating the production of gastric juice, coffee causes and intensifies the feeling of hunger. It can make a child get snacks (chocolate bars, pastry, etc) in between meals. With a sedentary lifestyle, this contributes to the rapid gain of excess weight.
- Acceleration of the heart muscle in children with a weak vascular system can cause dizziness, nausea, and even stroke.
- Frequent urination leads to leaching of calcium and potassium, which are necessary for bone strength.
At What Age Can A Child Be Given Coffee?
Yes, a few sips of coffee don’t seem to make any difference. But caffeine is addictive, and when a kid starts drinking the whole cup(s) per day, that’s the reason to worry.
When exactly can children drink coffee? The allowable age for trying coffee varies between 6-15 years. Someone says that teenagers can drink up to one cup of coffee per month, someone recommends drinking it in adolescence on an ongoing basis.
Afraid of reaction to caffeine? In fact, it’s contained not only in coffee beans: caffeine is also found in chocolate, cocoa, Coca-Cola, and green tea. So your little one’s body is already familiar with the substance. When you allow your kid to make the first sips, your main task here is to exclude addiction.
Try giving your little one real coffee: dark, concentrated, and bitter. A rare kid will ask for seconds.
Alternatively, you can give cocoa, chicory, or tea with milk – their taste is much better!
Up to 6 years old, it is better not to give any caffeinated beverages to children as the digestive system is very vulnerable. In the future, this may cause stomach ailments. The best alternative to coffee for toddlers is chicory. When your kid is 7-10 years old, you can give a minimum allowed dose of coffee once a month. At the age of 11-14 years, a kid can drink coffee once a week. Can children drink coffee more often? Yes, but it will definitely lead to side effects, especially on the nervous system. To exclude the risk of insomnia at night, it is better to drink coffee in the morning.
When NOT To Give Coffee?
Coffee is prohibited for kids with:
- Pathologies of the cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal tract;
- Cerebral palsy;
- Unstable functioning of the nervous system.
Can Pregnant Women Drink Coffee?
There is a myth that coffee causes miscarriages, but does it contain a grain of truth? According to the American Pregnancy Association, women consuming 200 mg or more caffeine daily have a 50% higher risk of miscarriage than those who don’t drink caffeinated beverages at all.
We recommend reducing the amount of coffee you drink during pregnancy, and if possible, switch to decaf. Consider the following: while some 100-300 mg of caffeine is an insignificant dosage for the mother, this is enough for the baby to get overexcited in the womb.
Is a cup of coffee worth risking your baby’s health? I’m sure you don’t think so.
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