To date, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has offered no recommendations for how much caffeine children can safely have. However, many health experts urge that children under age 12 should not drink coffee or other highly caffeinated beverages, and that they should limit their caffeine intake through soda and hot chocolate to no more than 45 mg per day. For adolescents, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 100 mg of caffeine per day.
As a stimulant, caffeine affects the central nervous system and may interfere with sleep. This can be a problem for children and adolescents, who typically need more sleep than adults. In adults and children alike, caffeine increases blood pressure and heart rate, and it can result in “the jitters,” interfere with concentration and cause headaches. These effects can occur in children with even less intake of caffeine than for adults.
Parents should encourage their children to drink primarily milk, water and fruit juices with no added sugar. Also, children should never be allowed to drink so-called energy drinks, which often contain significantly more caffeine than regular soda and coffee.
Caffeine Amounts in Common Drinks:
Chocolate milk (8 fl. oz.): 5 mg
Coca-Cola (12 fl. oz.): 35 mg
Coffee, brewed (8 fl. oz.): 163 mg
Coffee, instant (8 fl. oz.): 57 mg
Coke Zero (12 fl. oz.): 34 mg
Hot chocolate/hot cocoa (8 fl. oz.): 5 mg
Lipton Iced Tea (20 fl. oz.): 48 mg
McDonald’s Iced Coffee (22 fl. oz.): 200 mg
McDonald’s Sweet Tea (32 fl. oz.): 100 mg
Monster Energy (16 fl. oz.): 160 mg
Mountain Dew (12 fl. oz.): 54 mg
Snapple, peach (16 fl. oz.): 42 mg
Starbucks Frappuccino (9.5 fl. oz.): 115 mg