Caffeine Consumption: Could Be Affecting Your Child

Caffeine Consumption: How It Could Be Affecting Your Child

It’s pretty normal for adults to consume a cup or two of caffeinated coffee in the morning to start the day, and maybe a can of soda in the afternoon. Regular caffeine consumption can have negative effects in adults, like dependency and withdrawal symptoms. But how will caffeine consumption affect your child?

Sleep Problems

Researchers at the University of Nebraska found in a study of children ages 5-12 that caffeine consumption is directly related to a child’s sleep pattern: the more caffeine a child consumes, the less sleep they get. Caffeine is a stimulant, which is why many of us consume it in the morning to feel more alert and ready for the day. However, if the effects haven’t worn off by bedtime, your child will have a hard time winding down and drifting off to sleep.

Behavior Problems

Caffeine will affect different children in different ways, but can cause a variety of behavioral problems. Most commonly, a child who has consumed too much caffeine will have trouble concentrating, especially at school. Excess caffeine can also lead to feelings of nervousness or anxiety, both of which can cause agitation. These symptoms are more prone to affect a child who consumes a large amount of caffeine on a regular basis.

Health Problems

Children who consume caffeinated beverages often consume them in the form of sugary sodas. These soft drinks often contain up to 10 teaspoons of sugar per serving! Not only do sodas not offer any valuable nutrients or health benefits (as opposed to milk or juice), but regular consumption may also cause erosion of tooth enamel. In the short term, overconsumption of caffeine can cause headaches and upset stomach.

Caffeine and Children – The Myths

Contrary to popular belief, caffeine consumption will not stunt a child’s growth. Also, although caffeine does have diuretic properties, there has been no proven link between caffeine consumption in children and increased bedwetting.

Cut Out Caffeine

The easiest way to eliminate caffeine from your child’s diet is to replace soda with flavored water, juice, or milk. You can even still serve soda on occasion, just take note that many soft drinks out there are caffeine-free – or are available in a caffeine-free variety.

If you’re cutting out caffeine, the best way to quit is to gradually cut the intake back rather than quitting cold turkey. As stated above, abruptly cutting caffeine out of a diet – either child or adult – can result in headaches and general tired, lousy feelings. A person cutting back on caffeine may sleep more than usual at first, and that’s totally normal!

The Dallas YMCA is committed to helping kids develop healthier habits that last a lifetime – healthy kids are more likely to grow into healthy adults. Keeping sugary, caffeinated beverages to a minimum can help ensure your child stays as healthy as possible. Keep an eye out for more information about our upcoming Healthy Kids Day on April 28!

What do you think about kids and caffeine? Leave us a comment to let us know!

Authored by: YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas