A lot of parents have a cup of coffee to start their morning, and many have had their 7-year-olds ask for one too, but can a 7-year-old drink coffee? I’ve asked a pediatrician about this topic and done some research to help provide you the best answer to this tricky question.
So, can 7-year-olds drink coffee? Coffee contains a lot of caffeine additives that are both addictive and problematic to the health of a child. The amount and frequency of coffee a child drinks can determine the health issues the child faces. For example, since there is so much caffeine in a cup of coffee, it won’t take much to cause sleep issues and jitters in a child.
Now, a lot of parents really worry about giving their kids coffee or making their kids feel left out by not giving them coffee. I know how hard it can be to tell my own little son no (example: he really loves when I get a Chic-fil-a milkshake, and I let him have some of it even though he’s only a baby). So, I’ve researched some information about coffee and compiled some alternatives to help you know what are healthy choices for you and your child.
The medical information in this article was provided by Monica Fisher, M.D., a licensed pediatrician.
Why Does My Child Want Coffee?
Honestly, most children want to drink coffee because they see their parents drinking it. You are your child’s biggest role model, and what you think is cool, they will think is cool. So, if you don’t want your child to want to drink coffee, the best way to prevent this is to stop drinking coffee yourself.
But, you may not want to do that, so what do you do? Well, the best thing to do is to explain to your child that coffee is not a drink for children. Your 7-year-old might not fully understand the implications of why he or she shouldn’t drink coffee, but most children like having things explained to him or her.
Another reason your 7-year-old might want to drink coffee is because they have seen others around them drink it and are curious about how it tastes. 7-year-olds are very observant and curious, always wanting to explore things around them, so it is good to help satisfy that curiosity, though it might not be the best idea to let them try stronger drinks like coffee.
But, is coffee really bad for your 7-year-old?
Is Coffee Bad for my 7-Year-Old?
According to Monica Fisher, a licensed pediatrician, coffee is not recommended for 7-year-olds because of a variety of health reasons associated with the consumption of caffeine.
Now, let me preface this section by saying that none of these reasons are fatal, but they can lead to more health complications down the road. Here are a few that you should be aware of:
Large doses of caffeine, such as those found in coffee, can lead to headaches in young children. This is especially true if your child drinks coffee frequently and then stops drinking it suddenly. Caffine induced headaches can be painful for a young child and should be considered before you allow your child to drink caffine.
The acid in coffee can cause your child to have an upset stomach, especially if your child is drinking it frequently.
Interference with Calcium Absorption:
Though opinions vary on this particular subject, the caffeine in coffee (which is usually a pretty high dose), can interfere with calcium absorption in the bones. For a 7-year-old who is still growing, this can be a problem that could lead to other health issues down the line.
A lot of coffee has added sugars and sweeteners to make it taste better, but these sugars can cause cavities in your child, who is more prone to getting them at young ages.
Coffee is a diuretic that causes your body to eliminate waste through peeing. Drinking too much coffee and not enough water may lead to dehydration because the body will not be able to absorb liquid faster than it is expelling it.
The caffeine in coffee is highly addictive, and addiction to coffee can lead to withdrawal symptoms if the child does not receive a dose of coffee that is sufficient for their addiction. Some of the withdrawal symptoms may include headaches, muscle aches, and irritability.
You might not be comfortable with letting your child drink coffee, and that’s okay. The caffeine in coffee is powerful and addictive. There are alternatives to coffee that can help your 7-year-old satisfy his or her curiosity and craving. Now, some of these are close to coffee while others are far away from it, but it is up to you and your child what he or she will drink.
- A Steamer: These are great to give your kid if they really want something close to what mommy or daddy is drinking. Steamers are a milk-based drink that doesn’t have caffeine or coffee in them, so they are safe in that department. They are also quite delicious. You can try making them at home, or you can ask for them at your local coffee shop, and odds are, your child will love it.
- Hot Chocolate: This is a classic option, though your child may recognize that this drink definitely isn’t coffee. Hot chocolate is a rich chocolatey drink that can come with many different added in flavors (my favorite is a mix of cherry and chocolate).
- Coffee Substitutes: A lot of coffee substitutes are closer to the bitter taste of coffee without all of the caffeine. So, let’s say that your child tried some of your coffee, and he or she really liked the bitter taste, but you don’t feel comfortable giving them a cup every day. Coffee substitutes offer your child that bitter taste with less backlash.
- Herbal Teas (without caffeine): Herbal teas are another good option for your 7-year-old to drink. However, make sure that the tea is caffeine free before you purchase it or else your child will get the same side effects he or she would get from coffee.
- Apple Cider: Now, this may be more of a seasonal drink for you and your family (I know it is for mine), but if you’re looking for something that your child might like, this apple flavored drink is a lot like a warm, spiced apple juice, and what kid doesn’t like juice?
- Flavored Milk: At the age of 7, your child will need a lot of calcium for their growing bones, so a flavored milk could be a popular choice. Nowadays, you can find all kinds of different flavors including chocolate, strawberry, and even banana (yeah, I’ve tried this one before).
- Juices: Juice is another good alternative for coffee, though it is nothing like coffee. Juice is nice and sweet and comes in a variety of flavors that your 7-year-old might love.
With all of these different drinks, however, keep in mind that your child needs to drink around 5 cups (or 1 liter) of water each day. So, be sure that you are prioritizing it for your child (and yourself).
Also, be careful about how much sugary beverages your 7-year-old drinks. Sugar can lead to obesity and tooth decay that could cause further health problems for your child.
How much soda should I let my 7-year-old drink? Typically, a child should not consume too much soda, especially soda with caffeine. Caffeine and sugar in soda can lead to obesity. But, an occasional soda, and maybe not even a full can, will not hurt a 7-year-old.
How much water should my 7-year-old drink? It is recommended that children between ages 5-8 drink about 5 glasses (or one liter) of water a day. Staying adequately hydrated will keep your 7-year-old healthy as they continue to grow.