Moderation is important for many nutrition and dietary practices; this is especially true in the case of caffeine and children, tweens and teens.
One way to minimize the many unpleasant side effects of caffeine is to minimize or limit the amount of caffeine routinely consumed by your child, tween or teen.
This article offers tips on minimizing caffeine use in children and also minimizing the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal.
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With the increasing availability of caffeine in so many sources it is relatively easy for children, tweens and teens to get access to caffeine in beverages and foods unless unless carefully monitored.
Most adults know caffeine consumption can be habit forming; the caffeine habit can even occur with children, tweens and especially teens. Monitoring the amount of caffeine a child, tween or teen is routinely ingesting and then using caffeine in moderation are also important when managing caffeine intake in teens.
Parents should be aware that tweens and teens who are routinely drinking coffee, soda or energy drinks especially for late-night study sessions, may be getting higher than recommended levels of caffeine and may need to have their amount of daily caffeine reduced.
The next section looks at tips for minimizing or reducing caffeine use by children, tween and teens.
Tips to Minimize Caffeine Use by Children, Tweens and Teens
Moderation is important for minimizing caffeine use by children. The best way to minimize caffeine in a child's diet is to eliminate or limit soda consumption. This also eliminates the added sugar in soda.
1. Encourage children to drink water, milk, flavored seltzers and fruit juices instead of soda.
2. Get your child a special water bottle to use, to make drinking water fun.
3. Drink smaller volumes of caffeinated sodas.
4. Watch for hidden caffeine source.
- Many energy drinks may contain significant amounts of caffeine.
- “Healthy drinks” such as SoBe? Energy Citrus Flavored drinks contain caffeine.
- Iced Tea, Sunkist Orange Soda and Mountain Dew all contain caffeine.
- A Starbucks Coffee Frappucino drink contains as much caffeine as three 12-ounce cans of Coke. Many parents think this milky beverage is harmless.
- New mints with added caffeine or caffeine-containing herbs are now available.
5. Choose milk chocolate over dark chocolate. It has less caffeine.
6. Limit products flavored with coffee or chocolate e.g. candy, ice cream and drinks.
7. Advocate for food and supplement labels that include caffeine amounts.
8. Model good behavior for you children. If they see you consuming caffeinated sodas and coffee they will just want 'a sip.'
Tips to Minimize Caffeine Withdrawal
Moderation is the key over time to keeping a child’s, tween’s or teen’s caffeine consumption within recommended limits. Children, tweens and teens who are used to consuming caffeine above the recommended levels may need to have their caffeine intake reduced.
The best way to minimize the impact of caffeine withdrawal is to cut back slowly.
1. Start by keeping track of how many caffeinated drinks the child has each day.
2. Substitute one drink per week with a caffeine-free alternative until he or she has gotten below the 100-milligram mark.
3. Cut the child's caffeine consumption by substituting non-caffeinated drinks (water, caffeine-free sodas, and caffeine-free teas) for caffeinated sodas and coffee.
Be aware that as the amount of caffeine is cut down, the child may feel tired, achy and overall lousy. The best way to manage this is to make sure that the child or teen gets plenty of sleep. Once the child has decaffeinated, his or her energy levels should return to normal.
Recommendations for Amount of Caffeine
Children & Tweens
The United States does not yet have established guidelines for caffeine intake by children. The Canadian government has some good recommendations for caffeine intake by age:
- 45 mg per day for 4- to 6-year-olds
- 62.5 mg per day for 7- to 9-year-olds
- 85 mg per day for 10-to 12-year-olds
Those recommended maximums are equivalent to about one to two 12-oz (355 ml) cans of cola a day. One 12 ounce soda is equal to 35 - 45 mg of caffeine; two cans 70 - 90 mg.
Nutrition experts suggest that the upper limits for teens be no more than 100 mg per day; this amount is little more than
- One can of Red Bull
- Two cans of Coke
- 10 ounces of a Monster Energy Drink
More Type-A Mom Articles on Caffeine
Other related articles on caffeine featured on the Type-A Mom site include Reasons for Minimizing Caffeine Use by Children and Could Your Child, Tween or Teen be Getting Over Caffeinated?
Related Articles on the About Caffeine Related Products
There are several related articles on caffeine, vitamins and muscle enhancers found in gumball-like products in the article on "There’s Caffeine hiding in Those Gumballs (Energy Balls)!"
There is even more information about these deceptive products the Squidoo lens on " Gumballs with Caffeine & Muscle Enhancers Marketed for Children & Teens."
Sources and For More Information
Center for Science in the Public Interest. May 2007. Caffeine Content of Food and Drugs.
Consumer Reports. 2006. Caffeinated kids. ConsumerReports?.org
Frary CD, Johnson RK. January 2005. Wang MQ. Food sources and intakes of caffeine in the diets of persons in the United States. Journal of the American
Dietetic Association. 105;1:110-113.
Health Canada. 2006. Caffeine. It’s Your Health.
Heller L. Feb. 2007. Pepsi to put caffeine content on labels. BeverageDaily?.com
Heller L. Feb. 2007. Coca-Cola joins industry move to label caffeine. BeverageDaily?.com
Jana LA, Shu J. 2007. Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor and a Bottle of Ketchup. American Academy of Pediatrics.
KidsHealth?.org. 2007. Is Caffeinated Soda OK for Kids? Nutrition and Fitness.
KidsHealth?.org. 2005. Caffeine and Your Child. Nutrition & Fitness.
Laino C. 2005. Caffeinated Cola May Make Kids Hyperactive. From Coverage of the American Psychiatric Association 2005 Annual Meeting.
Nieman P. 2006. Children and Caffeine. HealthyKids?.ca.
University of Utah Pharmacy Department. Caffeine. Common Medications.
Warner J. 2004. More Americans Getting a Caffeine Buzz: Soft Drinks Surpass Tea as Second Most Popular Caffeine Source. WebMD Medical News.
Photo Source: Jenny W. 1 bottle of.... Royalty Free Use.
About the Author
Kirsti A. Dyer MD, MS, CWS is a respected physician, an expert in life challenges, loss, grief and bereavement, professional health educator, professor, lecturer, writer and author.
Dr. Dyer teaches College Students how to live healthier lives and become more savvy Internet consumers as part of her Nutrition & Wellness Course.