Tea and Coffee for Kids - Health Benefits & Risks

Is Serving Tea and Coffee Good for Your Child’s Health?

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Megha Mukhija (Paediatric Nutritionist)
View more Paediatric Nutritionist Our Panel of Experts

Here’s the truth: We all love to drink tea and coffee. Our day starts with a cup of chai or coffee and sometimes ends with it, too. And, while we enjoy that warm cup of our favourite beverage, our kids observe us silently and look at us, hoping that we will let them have a sip of that heavenly beverage. On days, you will want to give in and let your child drink chai, but is it a wise decision? Tea for kids is not highly regarded as an ideal thing to do by our ancestors, and the same goes for coffee for kids. But, why? Let’s find out if you can give your child tea or coffee.

Is It Safe for a Child to Drink Tea/Coffee?

Tea and coffee are usually not recommended to kids as they have tannin, caffeine, etc., which are deemed unhealthy for children. It could seem like a challenge to make your child drink milk on days when he is stubborn, but you must try and avoid tea or coffee completely. In the case of older stubborn kids, you may want to dilute one of the beverages and give them some, but as less frequently as possible, to make sure it doesn’t become a habit.

The reason why it is not safe for children to drink tea or coffee is that the caffeine and tannin in them, when consumed in excess, can cause jitteriness, upset stomach, increased heart rate, concentration issues, etc. Though FDA has not shared any recommended level of caffeine consumption for kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics highly discourages the consumption of caffeine and other stimulants like tea by children and adolescents.

More side effects of consuming tea and coffee have been mentioned in the article below. Be sure to read them as well.

Now, many parents might think it appropriate to give their children tea or coffee as they do have some health benefits. If you are one of those parents, you must consider your child’s age before making any decision.

When Should You Start Giving Tea/Coffee to Your Child?

As tea and coffee contain caffeine, it’s best that you don’t give them to your child. The sugar present in the tea may also prove to be harmful to children. It is best to completely avoid these two beverages till 14 years of age. The consumption can be started after 14 years of age in small quantities, like 1 cup per day, if required.  

There are positive and negative effects of drinking tea and coffee for both children and adults. However, children’s growing and developing bodies may not react the way adult bodies will. Let’s take a look at both sides of the coin – the health benefits and the reasons why your child shouldn’t be having both these beverages. These points can help you make an informed decision.

Health Benefits of Tea/Coffee for Kids

These benefits of drinking tea or coffee might seem apt for your little one, but remember that his growing body could respond differently than your grown-up body. To avoid complications or side effects, it is best to avoid coffee or tea for kids. We have still gone ahead and provided some information for your perusal, but we strongly suggest you avoid the beverages completely for children.

1. It May Provide Relief From Fever

Drinking tea/coffee can also help cope with fever. If your child has a fever, you can give him a warm cup of the diluted beverage. Adding a slice of ginger and 2-3 cardamom pods to the tea can help him heal quickly.

2. It May Help Treat Nausea

An upset stomach and vomiting are major symptoms of nausea. in this case, ginger tea can be given. Nausea is common in children as their immune system is still developing; hence, they are more prone to sickness or nausea.

3. It May Cure Cold and Cough

Tea can also help with cough and common cold not only in adults but also in children. Be it a bad throat or a bad cough, tulsi ginger tea is a common solution to both problems.

Now, let’s take a look at why your child should not drink tea or coffee.

Reasons Why Your Child Should Not Drink Tea/Coffee

Caffeine, when consumed in excess, has side effects, too, and can affect your child’s health negatively. Stated below are problems that may arise if your child drinks coffee in excessive amounts.

1. May Result in Insomnia

Coffee contains caffeine which acts as a stimulant and makes one feel more alert by blocking a sleep-inducing chemical in the brain. Thus if your child drinks tea/coffee, he may feel alert and may stay awake for long. Kids require a good amount of sleep for their growth and development, but if they drink coffee, they may end up staying awake.

Drinking coffe/tea may result in Insomnia2. It May Affect the Bone Health

Tannins & phytic acids present in these drinks may interfere with calcium and iron absorption in the body, leading to poor bone health. Hence, tea and coffee may be ideal for developing children who are already at a critical bone health stage.

3. It Lowers the Appetite in Children

Caffeine acts as an appetite suppressant and can negatively affect a child’s health by replacing nutrient-rich foods from his diet. Your growing child needs balanced nutrition, so make sure you don’t give coffee to your child.

4. It May Cause Cavities

Coffee and tea are generally considered acidic in nature, which may lead to the weakening of enamels in case of over-consumption. 

5. It May Lead to Hyperactivity

Coffee is harmful to kids as it is a hyper stimulant which leads to hyperactivity, lack of concentration, anxiety, and restlessness, which are not good at such a tender age.

In spite of some positive benefits of having tea or coffee, kids don’t really need it. What they do need is a healthy diet and enough sleep to bring about adequate physical and mental development. But, time and again, parents find themselves in a situation that needs to be handled with care and patience. If you find yourself caught up when your little one demands a cup of tea/coffee, you can go for a herbal brew and enjoy a cup with him. read on for some more information about herbal brews for children.

Are Herbal Teas Safe for Kids?

Some herbal concoctions are safe for kids to have if the ingredients are already a part of their diet. Therefore, brews with herbs like ginger, mint, lemongrass, cardamom, etc., can be considered if you are looking for alternatives to tea/coffee for your kid. However, we strictly recommend that you check with a trusted paediatrician or nutritionist before starting any brew for your child. Consulting an expert will help you know about possible side effects/allergies and allow you to use appropriate ingredients in safe quantities to make your child a warm cup of the chosen brew.

As a parent, you must remember that some herbal teas are more dangerous for the kids; they can stress the kid’s kidneys and have diuretic effects, which will increase urination, ultimately disturbing your child’s day to day activities like sports, classes, and sleep. Therefore, you must be a hundred per cent sure to give your child safe and healthy herbal teas with the guidance of an expert.

You may want to take a look a look at some of our suggestions, too, before consulting your paediatrician or nutritionist. Please remember not to rush into giving your child one of these recipes, and consult an expert to get the go-ahead first as these brews could have side effects on your child. Let’s begin with how you could prepare a herbal brew and then move on to some safe herbal teas for kids.

How to Make a Herbal Brew for Your Child

If you plan to give a cup of herbal brew to your child on days he is tempted to have tea, we suggest that you make it as healthy as possible and enjoy it with him in your regular teacups. Here’s how you can make some:

  • Boil half a glass of water in a saucepan.
  • When the water is boiling, add a sliced cube of ginger and a pinch of cardamom powder to it.
  • At this point, you may add some tea leaves or herbs, such as mint, lemongrass, etc. and allow it to steep for about 2-3 minutes. This step is optional and can be skipped for younger kids. 
  • In case the brew seems to be strong, dilute it by adding more water.
  • Adding milk or not is a mere choice, but remember to let it cool down before serving it to avoid burns.

Herbal Teas That Are Safe for Kids

There exist a great variety of herbal teas that are considered safe for kids. However, your baby’s paediatrician/nutritionist is the best person to recommend either one of these or some other safe beverage. Be sure you share any medical history and allergic reaction your child may have had with the paediatrician or the nutritionist to get proper guidance on this topic.

1. Fennel Tea

Fennel is considered to be a safe ingredient for children as it provides relief from colic and respiratory issues. It also treats digestion problems in kids.

Fennel TeaHow to Make

Put a spoonful of fennel seeds into water and boil them for about 10-15 minutes. Once the water boils and its colour changes completely, filter it and let the tea cool before serving it to your little one.

3. Cardamom Tea

Cardamom tea helps provide relief from digestion problems, lowers stomach pain, helps get rid of headaches, and also decreases phlegm and cough. 

How to Make

Boil a glass of water and add some cardamom pods or cardamom powder to it. Give it a stir and let it boil. Strain and serve.

3. Ginger Tea

Ginger tea can help treat gastric ulcers, digestion problems, nausea, and cold and cough in children. 

How to Make

Take a small piece of ginger and grate it. Add the grated ginger in some water and let it boil for about 5-7 minutes. Then, add lemon juice and a spoonful of honey. Let the tea cool before you serve it to your kid. 

4. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea offers a host of health benefits to children. It helps relieve stomach aches and cures digestion problems, gastric problems, insomnia, the common cold, etc. However, you must watch out for allergy here, as it can be allergic to babies in a rare extent.

Chamomile TeaHow to Make

Boil a cup of water in a saucepan, then add two teaspoons of chamomile flowers in it. Cover with a lid and let the mixture boil for about 10 minutes. Strain and give it to your child once it cools.

5. Mullein Tea 

Mullein tea helps provide relief from cough and treats pneumonia, colic, diarrhoea, fever, common cold and even bronchitis.

How to Make

Boil a glass of water with one spoonful of mullein in it for about 10 minutes. Filter out the leaves and serve the tea to your kid once it cools.

Avoid giving caffeine to your children as it could lead to issues like bone loss and insomnia. Tea might seem like the lesser evil of the two, but it is also not healthy for children. If you must, you may consider giving your child herbal brews, but only after consulting an expert and getting the go-ahead, else it is best to stick to other beverages, such as milk, juices, milkshakes, and smoothies for kids.


1. Jennifer L. Temple; Caffeine Use in Children: What we know, what we have left to learn, and why we should worry; Neurosci Biobehav Rev – NCBI; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2699625/; June 2009

2. McVay. E; Is Coffee Bad for Kids?; Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital; https://www.hopkinsallchildrens.org/ach-news/general-news/is-coffee-bad-for-kids; February 2020

3. Muth. ND; Recommended Drinks for Children Age 5 & Younger; HealthyChildren.org.; https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Recommended-Drinks-for-Young-Children-Ages-0-5.aspx; May 2022

4. Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine is Too Much?; U.S. Food & Drug Administration; https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/spilling-beans-how-much-caffeine-too-much; December 2018

5. Caffeine; MedlinePlus – NIH; https://medlineplus.gov/caffeine.html

6. Joy. K; Parents, Perk Up to the Dangers of Caffeine for Teens; Michigan Medicine – the University of Michigan; https://www.michiganmedicine.org/health-lab/parents-perk-dangers-caffeine-teens; May 2017

7. American Bone Health; Kids and Caffeine; American Bone Health; https://americanbonehealth.org/young-athletes/kids-and-caffeine/; October 2016

Also Read: Sinusitis In Children – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Previous article «
Next article »