Deciding What Age is Appropriate for Our Children to Drink Coffee
These days, caffeinated drinks are everywhere, and beverage companies are marketing them to our kids at a younger and younger age. As the little ones begin to grow up, many parents find themselves wondering when the appropriate time is to introduce their kids to drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks.
Dispelling Old Myths
Growing up, many kids want to make a steaming cup of coffee just like the grownups do. Yet many parents are worried that coffee might stunt the growth of a child. The fact of the matter is that this is a myth. Coffee may do a lot of things, but stunting your growth has never been one of them. While we can cross this off the list of side-effects of coffee consumption, there are still other risks involved.
Coffee and Children
A recent study examined the effects of caffeine on children and found that when low doses of caffeine were administered, the children experienced a slower heart rate and increased blood pressure. With small doses of caffeine, the heart rate slows to compensate for the rise in blood pressure. Higher doses make the heart race, which is something we’ve all experienced at one time or another after a few too many cups of coffee.
What’s particularly alarming is that boys seem to be affected more dramatically than girls when it comes to caffeine’s effects.
In addition to these effects, coffee affects children the same way it affects adults. It can lead to jitteriness, trouble concentrating, an upset stomach, nervousness, and trouble sleeping. Since our kids weigh considerably less than we do, these side effects can be more dramatic for our children than they are for us.
These side effects are alarming enough before you even consider the effects they could have on dental health. Many kids don’t long for a cup of black coffee; instead they want it with plenty of cream and of course, plenty of sugar. All that sugar will lead to cavities and present dental problems down the road.
A Growing Concern
Thanks to the popularity of energy drinks, it’s not just coffee and soda we have to worry about. A recent study found that older teens are consuming twice as much caffeine as they did a decade ago, thanks in large part to the popularity of energy drinks.
These drinks are similar to soda in that they’re sugary and sweet, but they’re packed with obscene amounts of caffeine, often up to 250mg in a can. These types of drinks can be very dangerous for young children. In fact, another recent study shows that half of all calls to poison control centres resulting from energy drink consumption were in children younger than six years old.
A Safe Starting Point
With the information about the risks of giving coffee to children, this is a topic that many parents wish to revisit when their offspring become teenagers of at least 16 years old. There are no benefits, but plenty of risks when it comes to caffeine consumption in children. Considering the negative side effects, you may want to do the same with your kids.