Caffeine and Childrenby Angela Tague
Your child watches you sip a cup of coffee in the morning or enjoying an afternoon cola. The day will come when he asks to try what you're drinking. Deciding whether or not to include caffeine in your child's diet is a personal preference. Some parents allow a sip here or there, while others swear off the stimulant.
Jittery feelings, anxiousness, shaky hands and the need to urinate frequently often accompany caffeine consumption. No mother enjoys calming a child with those symptoms -- especially while potty training. Caffeine can also make it difficult for children to nap or sleep through the night, and may cause stomachaches or headaches.
If your child begs to have what you're having, offer a caffeine-free beverage that looks similar. When you're enjoying tea, offer the child herbal tea. If you're having coffee after a meal, make the child hot cocoa. If you love dark colas, give the child a sugar-free root beer.
Although sports drinks and energy drinks get marketed to children, they may also contain caffeine. Choose fruit juices, milk, flavored waters or caffeine-free electrolyte drinks to avoid caffeine.
Other Caffeine Sources
While most parents recognize caffeinated beverages, the stimulant has also crept into foods and medicines. Cold medicine often contains caffeine to give the ill child a perky, healthier feeling. Gum and candy that promises a burst of energy may contain caffeine. Both dark and milk chocolate also contain caffeine.
Children like to repeat what their parents say. If yours declares that he needs your drink because it "gives him a boost," he's been listening to your verbal justifications for drinking caffeinated beverages. Explain to him that many foods and drinks can give you an energy boost, including protein-packed nuts, vitamin-enhanced flavored water and iron-rich meats. Next time you enjoy a caffeinated beverage, lead by example and pair it with an energy-boosting snack that you can share with the child.
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