How old do you have to be to drink coffee?

In this article we are going to discuss, “How old do you have to be to drink coffee?” as well as other products that contain caffeine. We will also give some tips for parents of children who want to start drinking coffee or who already drink coffee.

How old do you have to be to drink coffee?

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages caffeine consumption by children, but in Canada there are some basic guidelines where it is recommended that caffeine consumption only start at 4 years of age with a maximum of 45 milligrams of caffeine per day (approximately half cup of coffee).

Based on all the information available from scientific studies it seems clear that there is an extremely low level of risk for children who drink up to one cup of coffee a day.

Caffeine is everywhere

Although it is not recommended the consumption of excess caffeine by children and teenagers, caffeine can be found in many food products, such as energy drinks, teas, chocolates and chocolate cereals. Even some soft drinks have caffeine in their composition.

Still in decaffeinated coffee we can find traces of caffeine. A cup of caffeine (250 ml) can contain from 1 to 50 milligrams of caffeine.

Some chewing gum has caffeine in its composition, and this compound is absorbed by the body much faster when ingested through the chewing gum.

Energy drinks are the favorites of teenagers, but we should keep in mind that a simple can of Red Bull has 80 milligrams of caffeine, and energy drinks are sweet, carbonated and smooth for the child’s palate.

Since cocoa beans are sources of caffeine, all foods that have chocolate in their formulation contain caffeine in their composition. To give you an idea, a 100 gram slice of chocolate cake with frosting can contain up to 6 milligrams of caffeine.

Some studies show that children who consume energy drinks, which are also an important source of caffeine, may be at greater risk for anxiety during adulthood.

Coffee for teenagers

As children grow they become less sensitive to caffeine. Therefore, your teenagers can drink coffee from time to time, as long as it doesn’t exceed the recommended intake of the drink (about 1 cup a day).

A University of Nebraska Medical Center in the United States found that 75% of children and teenagers surveyed consumed excess caffeine from soft drinks.

Foods such as coffee, tea or soft drinks can be replaced by 100% fruit juice or flavored water. If your teenager insists on drinking coffee, choose to give it a decaf, although this is not completely caffeine-free, it can have from 1 to 50 mg of caffeine.

It should be considered that in childhood and adolescence, environmental interaction (and exposure to substances is included here) has a greater impact on the individual’s development and growth. 

In addition to the direct effects that caffeine could cause, there is the influence of an entire lifestyle that can be associated with increased caffeine consumption, for example, with inadequate eating habits, which if established at this time could remain in adulthood.

What are the consequences of excessive caffeine intake?

Children and adolescents who consume too much caffeine, probably from coffee and soft drinks, may have the following symptoms:

  • Some children may have sleep disturbances
  • Agitation
  • Low academic performance
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Stomach pain
  • Heartburn
  • Headaches
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Erosion of tooth enamel and caries.

One of the main effects of caffeine use is energy boosting, with reduced sleep and fatigue. The use of moderate doses of caffeine by adults (between 200 and 300 mg / day) causes a feeling of well-being, increased concentration, alertness and energy.

There is also an increase in mental and sensory capacity, with greater cognitive performance and reactivity. There is also a better performance in physical activities, probably by optimizing muscle contractions and reducing the feeling of fatigue.

However, the use of caffeine alters sleep dynamics, especially in the afternoon or night, when it can lengthen sleep latency and reduce its effectiveness and duration, especially in children and adolescents.

The use of higher doses, from 400 mg for adults, can cause anxiety, irritation, nervousness and nausea. Children can experience these symptoms at much lower doses than adults.

The consumption of coffee by children and adolescents is not recommended, as it alters sleep dynamics and various symptoms can occur if there is excessive consumption.

Since the consumption margin is very low, it is recommended that children and adolescents do not drink coffee, as other foods consumed during the day may contain caffeine and it may be overdosed in the child or adolescent’s body.

But if you still have doubts about the minimum age that a child can consume coffee, Canada indicates that children from 4 years old can consume coffee.


In this article we discussed “How old do you have to be to drink coffee?” as well as other products that contain caffeine. We also gave some tips for parents of children who want to start drinking coffee or who already drink coffee.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.