Caffeine is a natural stimulant present in coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, chocolate, and many other food and drinks. Despite its popularity, it is not good for children.
Caffeine’s effect on a child’s body
Caffeine is considered a drug since it stimulates the central nervous system and exerts physiological and psychotropic effects on the body. Excessive consumption of caffeine can cause:
- Feeling of alertness
- Higher blood pressure
- Faster heart rate
- Nervousness and jitters
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Upset stomach
- Symptoms of addiction
Children are especially more sensitive to the effects of caffeine. It can affect their moods and create a feeling of anxiety for up to 6 hours.
What other problems can caffeine cause?
Here are more reasons you should limit your child’s caffeine consumption:
- Children often drink caffeine present in the regular soft drinks, which increases the chances of obesity
- Consuming too many sweetened caffeinated drinks could cause dental cavity because of the high sugar content and the erosion of tooth enamel from acidity
- Caffeinated drinks often contain empty calories, and children who fill up on them often don’t get the minerals and vitamins they need for healthy growth
- Caffeine may make heart problems and nervous disorders worse
- Caffeine is a diuretic, which causes the body to eliminate water through peeing, which may contribute to dehydration
- Abruptly stopping caffeine may cause withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, muscle aches, and irritability
What is caffeine sensitivity?
Caffeine sensitivity is the amount of caffeine that will produce an effect on a person. Generally, the smaller a person is, the lesser the caffeine required to produce side effects. However, people who are regular consumers of caffeine soon develop a reduced sensitivity to it. This means they need a higher amount of caffeine to feel the same effect as someone who isn’t a regular consumer. So, the more caffeine children take, the more caffeine they will need to feel the same effect.
What foods and drinks contain caffeine?
Caffeine is produced naturally in the leaves and seeds of various plants. But it is also made artificially and added to certain foods. While children get most of their caffeine from sodas, it is also present in chocolate, tea, coffee, ice cream, iced tea, frozen yogurt, pain relievers, and other over-the-counter medicines.
How to reduce the amount of caffeine your child consume
One of the most important steps to take if you want to keep Your Child caffeine-free is to eliminate soda! Instead, offer them water, milk, or flavored seltzer. You can also offer 100% fruit juice in small quantities. Always remember to check for caffeine on the ingredient list of foods and beverages.
Reducing caffeine consumption
If you want to reduce caffeine intake, it is best to cut back slowly. Otherwise, the child could get headaches, feel depressed, and experience body aches. It isn’t unusual for your child to feel tired when you are trying to put them off caffeine; it is their body’s way of saying it needs more. Usually, energy levels will be back to normal within a few days.
Dr. Piyawut Kreetapirom, MD. (22 July 2021)