At what age is it OK let your child drink coffee?

Can 10 year olds drink coffee? Should they be older? Is it OK to have it younger if it's decaf and milky? We asked more than 1,400 mums and an expert, and their answers might surprise you...

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In a nutshell: Over 12 is when most people said they’d let their child drink coffee (we polled 1,427 parents).

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Here among the MFM team, coffee – for adults – is a bit of a divider. Half of us simply can’t stand the taste it and half of us can’t function without a massive mug of it in the morning 😂

But when it comes to kids having it – should they, at all? And if you do let them try it, what age should they be?

We asked more than 1,400 mums about how old their child would have to be before they let them try coffee.

By far the most popular answer (39%) was that our mums wouldn’t be letting their kids try coffee until they were over 12 years.

The next most popular answer (15%) was ‘Never’ followed by ‘Not sure’ (14%).

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What our mums said about coffee for kids

“I don’t think it’s a great idea,” one mum said. “Similar to tea it’d start milky (and decaf!) – I’m sure they’d hate it anyway!”

And a few other mums looked at it in comparison to a trusty cup of tea, as well, with one saying: “I don’t see any reason that children need to drink coffee.

“I know tea contains more caffeine but coffee just seems like a step too far, let them be children! A cup of tea is a rite of passage in the UK, coffee, not so much.”

Others said they might let their child try a sip of theirs, some said they might consider letting them have decaf only, and a few gave the reminder that if you do give it your children, make sure it’s not too hot.

A mum of 3 whose oldest child is 8 commented: “They sometimes have a very weak milky tea or coffee on cold days to warm up.”

At what age can a child drink coffee? What the expert says

Apart from the obvious dangers of children burning their mouths/hands if they spill hot coffee, we wondered about the effects drinking coffee could have on their internal body system.

So we asked child nutritionist Sarah Almond Bushell for her thoughts.

She says that because of the caffeine content, children shouldn’t drink coffee until they are 16 years of age.

“Caffeine in the levels found in both brewed and instant coffee is not dissimilar to that found in energy drinks and can cause headaches, sleeping problems, irritation and tiredness in children, because they are unable to metabolise it as efficiently as adults,” she tells us.

“Decaffeinated coffee however can be consumed at a younger age and may contribute to the positive hydration status of the child – however, it should be unsweetened, and many coffee shop-style coffee drinks are heavily sweetened.”

So, there you have it: even if you go for decaf, if you splurge on coffee for your kids while they’re out, the sugar content might be an issue instead. In that case, maybe giving it a miss altogether is the best option 🍵

This tag cloud shows some of the key words that came up from comments on this topic…

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What do you think?

What age do you think you’ll et your children drink coffee? Is tea different? Tell us in the comments below or over on Facebook.

Image: Getty Images

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