Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Java Jitters: Should Your Child Drink Coffee? - St. Louis Children's Hospital

As you’re standing in line for a latte, your 10-year-old child pipes in, “Can I have one, too?” While you drink it for the caffeine boost, coffee—including the fancy, frothy coffee drinks—may not be good for kids.

The symptoms of caffeine consumption are the same in adults and children. Nervousness, headaches and trouble sleeping associated with caffeine intake can have an effect on kids.

“We don’t recommend that children drink coffee,” says Tara Todd, registered dietitian at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Many children already drink too many caffeinated beverages. By adding coffee and sugar-filled coffee drinks to that equation, they’re not drinking milk and water and may not get enough of the vitamins and health benefits those drinks provide.”

Set the Stage to Be Caffeine Free
Parents should set rules for children regarding appropriate beverages throughout the day. That means kids ages 9 and older should drink the recommended four servings of milk per day before having a caffeinated beverage.

“Discuss with your child what he or she drinks outside of the house,” says Todd. “Don’t cut out caffeinated beverages all at once, as he or she may experience adverse side effects. But be sure to monitor how many calories and how much caffeine your kids are drinking each day.”

Click here to learn more about caffeine content in drinks.

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