“Coffee will stunt your growth.”
That is what my dad would always tell me about coffee when I was growing up.
Is it true?
Recently, I was having a discussion with my wife about some friends of ours, and somehow she mentioned that they give their kids (young kids) coffee. Naturally, I was perplexed and a little worried. “How could they give their kids coffee, it will stunt their growth!” My wife insisted it was a thing. There are people out there giving kids coffee.
I was curious.
The vilification of coffee
According to an article on the Smithsonian website, it all started with C. W. Post in 1895. After several other business ventures, Post, of cereal fame, created his first product in the breakfast sphere. It was call Postum. Postum is a coffee alternative beverage that is comprised of roasted wheat and molasses. If you are interested in trying it (And who wouldn’t be?), Postem is still available for sale.
C. W. Post effectively ran a smear campaign against coffee, running ads in popular magazines and newspapers with claims against it. By now, nearly all the claims against coffee by Post have been examined and proven false. However, most people, like me, still have a deep seeded base assumption that coffee is not for children.
The benefits of coffee
In recent years, it seems that coffee is gaining traction on being seen as a healthy beverage when consumed in moderation. There have been studies that suggest drinking coffee can help decrease your chances of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and type 2 diabetes. There is also speculation that coffee can have a small but positive affect on people with asthma.
One of the most intriguing aspects of giving children coffee is related to kid’s with hyperactivity and ADHD. Caffeine is a stimulant and may actually help a person diagnosed with ADHD focus and concentrate better. According to an article on Myomancy, caffeine has been used to replace up to 10 mg of the drug methylphenidate. Fascinating.
Caffeine does not stunt growth
Although there isn’t a study I can point to that specifically focuses on coffee, it is now commonly believed in the scientific and medical community that caffeine consumption does not affect growth.
There have been some studies that suggest caffeine may slightly affect your stomach’s ability to absorb calcium, but it is a minimal amount (equivalent to 1- 2 tablespoons of milk daily).
While caffeine in itself doesn’t stunt growth, think about how drinking coffee correlates to a child’s sleep pattern. The bulk of human growth hormones are released while a child is sleeping. If you are pulling little Johnny a couple shots of espresso every night before bed, you may be disrupting his sleep patterns and could possibly affect his growth.
Things to consider
On most of the websites and in most of the research papers I read, the amount of sugar in caffeinated beverages was more of a concern than caffeine. If you are going to be giving your child coffee, skip the sugar. If your child does not like coffee black or with milk, maybe it’s not for them.
The suggested daily caffeine intake for children is 2.5 milligrams per kilogram. (There is 2.2 pounds in a kilogram so you could probably stick to a 1 milligram per pound ratio.) An 8 oz mug of coffee contains around 100 milligrams of caffeine. This means a 50 pound child could have a 8 oz mug of half coffee and half milk.
While caffeine is not considered an addictive substance in the medical field, you probably know people who get cranky and quite grumpy when they miss their morning fix. Do you want your child to be like this if they are going to be sans coffee for the morning?
Will I be giving my kids coffee tomorrow?
`That is the question.
My son, Lincoln, is 6 six months old… no way for him.
For Adelaide (She is two and a half), I don’t think I see myself plopping down a 4 oz mug of manually brewed coffee in front of her any time soon (Even though I have the tiny Beehouse dripper). If she wants to have a taste of my coffee in the future… I think I just might let her try it.
What do you think? Are your children coffee drinkers or potential coffee drinkers?