We adults know the magic a cup of coffee can bring to an early start and the wonder of a cup of tea after a difficult day or a walk out in the cold. Warming, comforting, refreshing – where would we be without them?
Tempting as it may be to pass these benefits on to our children, it is important to remember that caffeinated drinks are not suitable for children.
In children, as in adults, caffeine can cause nervousness, headaches, upset stomach, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and difficulty sleeping.
It can also cause dehydration, aggravate heart or nervous-system disorders, and – if sugar-sweetened – contribute to tooth decay. It is also thought that caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee reduce the absorption of iron, especially if consumed with meals.
It’s also important to remember that tea and coffee are not the only drinks that contain caffeine – it is also found in some cola and energy drinks.
If you want to be able to offer a warm drink on a cold day, or you children want to feel like they are joining in with your afternoon cup of tea, try a caffeine-free alternative such as red bush tea – it’s suitable for drinking with milk so it still looks like normal tea, and has a mild taste.