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When Can Kids Drink Coffee?

Can Your Kid Safely Drink Coffee? According to the Experts, No Way

A young mixed race girl enjoys a cold winter day outside. She is smiling and holding a hot mug.

Since kids have plenty of energy without any caffeine needed, it should really be adults that are allotted a mandatory midday nap time. However, as your children enter adolescence and develop a desire to appear more grown up, chances are they'll start eyeing your coffee mug and asking for a cup of their own. Too much caffeine can lead to insomnia, jitters, an upset stomach, headaches, difficulty concentrating, and increased heart rate in grown people, so you can just imagine how a cup of joe might affect a youngster. There's not necessarily a black-and-white answer for what age is appropriate to introduce coffee to your kids, but experts agree that coffee shouldn't be introduced to a children's diet until they reach the end of puberty.

So far, the American Academy of Pediatrics has not specifically set guidelines for caffeine in children, although they don't recommend that children under the age of 12 have caffeine of any kind. Besides producing hyperactivity and an inability to concentrate, children who consume caffeine are more likely to experience a decline in tooth enamel, decreased appetite, and bone loss. According to Marcie Beth Schneider, MD, FAAP, a former member of the AAP committee on nutrition, and a specialist in adolescent medicine, caffeine and children simply don't mix. "Caffeine is a stimulant, and therefore it may change a kid's appetite," she told POPSUGAR. "Adolescents gain half of their adult weight in their teenage years. If caffeine curbs their appetite in some way, it could affect their growth."

As well as physical concerns, caffeine can also have a detrimental effect on your adolescent's temperament. "For kids who have some anxiety (and it may even be under control in normal conditions), caffeine can really increase anxiety," said Schneider. A study done by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention found that 73 percent of children consume caffeine on any given day, and coffee accounts for more than twice as much of that caffeine intake that it did a decade ago. For Schneider, the best way to get these numbers down and to prevent caffeine's negative side effects is to monitor the drinks your child is consuming. For children under the age of 18, Schneider recommended that "it's really in their best interest to not start something they'd be addicted to." Whether it's an energy drink, a can of soda, or a latte from Starbucks, Schneider believes the best way to promote healthy development is to keep caffeine out of kid's hands until after high school.

Image Source: Getty / FatCamera
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