Being a parent isn’t easy. And trying to balance a schedule full of work and family obligations takes a great deal of energy. That’s why so many parents start their day with a cup of their favorite coffee or espresso. It gives them the energy they need to face the day and power through it until the evening.
But coffee-drinking parents often face a dilemma – it’s that their children see them drinking it and begin to ask for some themselves. And deciding whether or not to give it to them is a difficult choice. That’s because there’s plenty of conflicting information out there as to the safety of coffee for children.
To clear that up, here’s everything you need to know about kids and coffee. We’ll cover what’s known, what’s not, and what’s pure speculation. By the end, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on whether you can give your kids coffee. Let’s dive in.
The Facts About Children and Coffee
Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different answer about the safety of coffee for children. But the one thing that’s known is that coffee itself poses no risk to kids. The only problematic aspect of it is the caffeine it contains. In adolescents, caffeine can cause anxiety, sleep disturbances, and cardiovascular issues.
And yet, the US Food and Drug Administration has no set guidelines for caffeine consumption in children. But other countries – particularly those where coffee is more culturally ingrained – have addressed the issue.
According to Canadian health authorities, the caffeine children may safely have each day varies by age. Their recommendations are:
- 45 mg per day for ages 4-6
- 62.6 mg per day for ages 7-9
- 85 mg per day for ages 10-12
- Up to 100 mg for adolescents
But the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) believes that it’s easier for parents to use their child’s weight to determine safe caffeine intake levels. They recommend parents limit their children’s caffeine intake to no more than 3 mg per kilogram of body weight daily. So a child that weighs 80 pounds should be able to safely consume two cups of coffee per day with no adverse effects.
The Unknowns Regarding Children and Coffee
Even though there isn’t any data to suggest that coffee is harmful to kids, there’s no direct evidence that it’s beneficial, either. Most experts do, however, draw some inferences based on studies of coffee intake in adults. And those studies do show that coffee has some positive health effects worth considering.
Among them is the fact that coffee contains some beneficial nutrients in significant quantities. These include vitamins B2, B3, and B5, as well as manganese and potassium. So coffee can be a part of a healthy child’s diet when consumed in moderation. Plus, the caffeine content does have beneficial effects, too.
Repeated studies of adults have shown that caffeine boosts memory, mood, energy levels, and concentration. And those are all effects that could have a positive impact on a child’s ability to learn and thrive in school – particularly in children who aren’t naturally early risers.
And it’s also worth noting that coffee does contain antioxidants that help the body fight off illness and disease at the cellular level. But as with coffee’s other positive health benefits, the effects of antioxidants in children aren’t yet known. It would take a major long-term study to find out if antioxidants affect a child’s long-term health outcomes. But since it’s difficult to find parents willing to let their children participate in such studies, it’s unlikely that such research will ever get done.
The Myths Surrounding Children and Coffee
There have long been myths and old wives’ tales surrounding coffee intake in children. The most widely-known of them is that drinking coffee will stunt a child’s growth. And although studies of coffee and caffeine intake in children are rare, there is data that dispels this particular myth. In one study that followed 81 coffee-drinking children for six years, researchers found no link between their coffee intake and their bone development.
And there’s also evidence of where the myth started, too. And believe it or not, it’s an intentional falsehood created as part of an ad campaign to promote a caffeine-free coffee alternative manufactured by the Post cereal company. The ads for Postum, which began running in 1933, claimed that coffee was displacing milk in kids’ diets and was a leading cause of undernourishment.
Of course, nobody connected to the campaign held a medical degree or had done any research to support the claim. But it went on to become a common misconception about kids and coffee that persists to this day.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, there’s no reason to believe that letting your children drink coffee is a bad idea. As long as you limit their daily intake to a sensible amount, it shouldn’t pose a problem. And on the contrary, there are plenty of reasons to believe it might be beneficial to them.
But as with anything else, the best thing you can do as a parent is to let your child try coffee if they want it. Then monitor their reaction to see if it causes any apparent effects. Chances are that it won’t. And, your child might even decide that they don’t even like coffee – and you’ll avoid having to deal with the subject entirely.
And if they end up liking coffee as much as you do, so much the better. It could turn into a part of your daily morning ritual with your child – a time to talk and bond and get ready for each new day. We’ll certainly be happy to help you nurture your shared love of coffee, and you can get all your coffee equipment from Qavashop. We’ve got everything you need to make the most delicious coffee for your whole family to enjoy. And now that you know the facts about kids and coffee, you can all drink up guilt-free.