Tis the season for frothy, foamy, whipped-cream-and-chocolate-shavings-topped coffee drinks. And it’s not just adults who are sipping them.
Coffee shop drinks are popular among some kids, especially tweens and teens. But are coffee drinks (not to mention soda and energy drinks) safe for kids of any age?
The short answer: Tread carefully. Little is known about the effects of caffeine on kids’ growing bodies and brains. What we do know is that kids have a lower tolerance for caffeine, which means they’re more prone to the negative effects of it too.
The U.S. has no official guidelines around kids and caffeine (though the American Academy of Pediatrics firmly says energy drinks have “no place” in the diet of kids). But Health Canada does give advice about caffeine and children.
Recommended limits on caffeine
- Kids ages 4-6: No more than 45mg per day
- Kids ages 7-9: No more than 62.5mg per day
- Kids ages 10-12: No more than 85mg per day
- Teens 13 and older: No more than 2.5 mg/kg body weight (that’s roughly 147mg for a 130-pound teenager)
Amount of caffeine in popular drinks
- 16-ounce can Rockstar Energy drink: 160mg
- Tall Starbucks Peppermint Mocha: 95mg
- Tall Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha: 75mg
- Tall Starbucks Caramel Brulee Latte: 75mg
- Tall Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino: 65mg
- Tall Iced Matcha Lemonade: 55mg
- 12-ounce can Mountain Dew: 54mg
- 12-ounce can Diet Coke: 46mg
- Tall Starbucks Hot Chocolate: 20mg
As with adults, caffeine can cause kids to feel irritable and nervous and make it hard to sleep. Kids can also experience caffeine withdrawal if they’re used to consuming it, which can trigger symptoms like headaches.
It’s also possible to overdose on caffeine, according to the Poison Control Center. Mild overdose can lead to shaking hands and an upset stomach. Severe overdose can cause vomiting and high blood pressure.
So, what should you do? If your kids like these kinds of drinks, ordering the smallest size is one simple way to cut back on caffeine. Or opt for a caffeine-free option.
Caffeine-free drink options
- Coffee-free Pumpkin Spice Latte
- Root beer and ginger ale (read labels to be sure)
- Herbal teas
- Starbucks White Hot Chocolate
- Starbucks Steamed Apple Juice or Caramel Apple Spice
- Starbucks Caramel Brulee Creme
- Starbucks Vanilla Creme Frappuccino
- Flavored sparkling water