Children copy their parents’ actions, trying to be like them. If they watch their mom or dad enjoying a cup of espresso, sooner or later they will say, “I want one too! However, the growing body is very different from the adult body.
In order not to cause harm, you need to know from what age it is possible for children to drink coffee, and the opinion of doctors on this matter. The most common is the age from 6 to 15 years. So can you treat a schoolchild to a cup of sweet cappuccino, or is it better to wait?
The impact of coffee on children
Coffee is loved for its rich taste and invigorating effect. A healthy person can drink up to 4-5 cups a day without harm to health. At such a dosage, the positive properties of the product are manifested. But a growing body is built and functions somewhat differently, and a healthy adult treat can cause serious damage to health.
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Stimulates the nervous system
Caffeine has a very powerful effect on the brain and the entire nervous system, it is no coincidence that it is drunk when you need to concentrate, work hard, defeat fatigue. The child at first will experience a boost of physical and intellectual strength, and this state of euphoria he even likes. But after 3-4 hours the remedy will cease to work, and in place of cheerfulness and activity will come severe fatigue, physical and psychological. Morning espresso “to wake up” will lead to the fact that already after the second lesson, the student has no energy left.
Habituation is formed
Children develop an addiction to coffee faster than adults. Already after a few such tries, an addiction will develop, and the nervous system will be undermined. The child’s mood will swing from merriment to moodiness to tearfulness. There will be problems in communication, education, sports.
Over time, the effectiveness of the stimulant decreases. If you do not control the consumption of coffee drinks by a teenager, he will increase the portions, achieving the same result. Children-coffee addicts risk becoming addicted to other substances: nicotine, alcohol, drugs. Can children drink coffee, if the risk is so great? The answer is obvious.
Dehydration and calcium deficiency occur
Recent studies have proven that only large amounts of coffee have a diuretic effect. But even if a child drinks one serving a day, the amount of water drunk is usually reduced. For a growing body is very important to drink the right regime, because the constant lack of fluid disrupts the cardiovascular system, kidneys, digestive organs.
A lot of valuable substances, especially calcium and magnesium, are used to absorb caffeine. An adult can compensate for this loss by eating a piece of cheese or a serving of fresh vegetables. For a school-age child who has an increased need for micronutrients, this is fraught with problems with teeth, growth, skin, and heart. It is a misconception that children can drink coffee with milk and there will be enough calcium. If a little milk is added, it won’t fix the situation.
- Read more: Why coffee washes calcium out of the body
After a cup of espresso, many people notice an improvement in mood. This is due to the increased production of dopamine, which is called the hormone of happiness. People over the age of 20 normally experience such high levels of the hormone, but immature teenagers may have endocrine disorders. During puberty, the hormonal system is already undergoing serious restructuring, and she does not need any additional shocks.
Coffee is drunk to cheer up after waking up or a lunch break. It is an effective remedy that really helps overcome drowsiness and fatigue. However, even adults should not drink coffee drinks towards evening so as not to suffer from insomnia. Children’s body eliminates caffeine at a slower rate, so even after dinner it is extremely undesirable. The only acceptable time of intake for schoolchildren under 15 years – after breakfast.
- This is interesting: How Coffee Affects Sleep
How old can children drink coffee?
Pediatricians do not give an unambiguous answer to the question of at what age children can drink coffee. Most believe that the minimum age limit for acquaintance with this drink is 14 years. Some experts call it 10 and even 6-7 years.
So what should parents do if their son or daughter shows a persistent interest? Enter the coffee diet should be gradual, watching the behavior and condition of the child, and especially given their age.
- Preschoolers should not be given a coffee drink categorically, because up to 7 years are extremely vulnerable heart, nervous and digestive systems. Even a spoonful, even with milk, even if it really asks. The potential harm is too high to experiment.
- At the junior school age (7-10 years old) it is acceptable to get acquainted with a new drink, if the child wants to try it. And the task of parents is to make so that the first acquaintance has not caused enthusiasm. That is, do not add sugar and milk, which disguise the natural bitterness. Drinking a sip of natural black coffee without sweeteners, children usually do not ask for “this crap” anymore. And if the “kind” mother makes a sweet coffee cocktail, latte or glace, thereby she will get her favorite child hooked on caffeine. Explanations of “this is an adult beverage” will stop working.
- From ten years of age you can give your child coffee, but not more than once a week. It’s better to make it for breakfast, and necessarily after a meal.
- More on this topic: Why it is harmful to drink coffee on an empty stomach
From 7 to 15 years of age, the maximum daily norm of caffeine is 50 mg.
How to reduce the harm
To prevent a young coffee drinker from undermining his health, you need to teach him to drink the right coffee in reasonable quantities:
- instant drink has no benefit, so it is forbidden for teenagers. The same applies to coffee from vending machines, and especially the “3 in 1” options from bags. Among other things, they are also very caloric. The best choice for both children and adults is brewed from freshly ground arabica. The medium roasting is preferable: light roasts have too much caffeine, and dark ones produce carcinogens if overheated;
- from the age of 7, children can drink coffee with milk, but this drink should have a light beige color. If you add only one serving of espresso (30ml) per glass, the allowable amount of caffeine will not be exceeded. In this combination, absorption in the stomach is slower, and the effect will not be sharp, but less pronounced. The taste will remain intense, unlike the drink diluted with water. In addition, milk contains calcium, so the balance of this trace element in the body;
- even the best coffee should not be drunk often and in large quantities. Up to 15 years old, 1 portion once a week is allowed.
And if there is no caffeine?
Believing that all the harm is in caffeine, parents buy a product for the child, exempt from this substance (decaff), and make a big mistake. In such a drink, the invigorating alkaloid is indeed minimal, but the acids remain, so the effects on the stomach remain.
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If the beans have been treated with solvents (and most manufacturers use this method as cheaper), methylene chloride or ethyl acetate particles remain in the product. This is even worse for the growing body than caffeine.
You want less caffeine in your baby’s drink, buy pure Arabica.
Caffeine is everywhere
Even if you don’t give your child coffee until age 15, he or she is 99% likely to get caffeine from other drinks and foods. After all, this natural alkaloid is also found in tea (both black and green), chocolate (hence cocoa), and Coca-Cola. And while tea and cocoa contain the tonic in smaller quantities, Coca-Cola could argue with espresso, because teenagers drink it in large bottles, not tiny cups.
|Drinks and foods||Caffeine in 100 ml/g (mg)|
|Espresso||200 – 250|
|Black coffee from a turkey||50 – 60|
|Cocoa (beverage made from natural powder)||5 – 10|
|Cocoa (instant drink)||2 – 3|
|Black tea||5 – 25|
|Green tea||10 – 18|
|Dark Chocolate||45 – 70|
|Milk chocolate||20 – 25|
Since the alkaloid is present in everyday foods, you need to consider the amount when formulating your diet. If you had a cappuccino in the morning, no more chocolate or cacao tea, much less Coca-Cola, can be eaten that day.
- Read also: What foods and drinks contain caffeine
The later a person’s diet includes coffee drinks, the better. Explain to your growing child why children shouldn’t drink coffee and offer them a healthier treat.