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Why Is it Bad to Give a Baby Coffee & Tea?

By Eliza Martinez ; Updated September 26, 2017
Coffee and tea aren't good for babies.

You love your morning cup of coffee and your afternoon mug of tea, so you might assume that sharing it with your baby lets her enjoy them both too. Coffee and tea aren't appropriate beverages for babies, however, because they can interfere with a normal diet and may result in nutritional concerns. For now, stick with breast milk, formula and water and save the coffee and tea for when your little one gets older.

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Part of the appeal of coffee and tea for adults is the quick jolt you get from the caffeine that both contain. The amount that gets you going in the morning is probably way too much for your baby's tiny body. Caffeine can make your little one jittery and can interfere with sleep and mood and might even give her a headache or upset stomach, notes Kids Health. Caffeine is a diuretic as well, which can leave your child dehydrated due to an increase in urination.

Empty Calories

Babies need calories and nutrients such as vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber, protein and calcium to facilitate healthy growth. Coffee and tea don't contain significant calories or much in the way of vitamins and minerals. If she fills her belly with coffee or tea, that leaves little room for formula, breast milk or purees, and puts her at risk of nutritional deficiencies that could interfere with her overall health.

Iron Absorption

Serving your baby coffee or tea with meals can interfere with adequate iron absorption. Babies need plenty of iron because it plays a role in physical growth, cognitive development and red blood cell generation, adds the Gerber website. If your little one's body isn't properly able to absorb iron from her food because she's drinking coffee or tea, she's at risk of anemia and developmental delays. Babies younger than age 1 should have formula or breast milk with meals for optimum nutrient intake and absorption.

Dental Issues

Even if your baby doesn't have all her teeth, being vigilant about oral health protects her future teeth as well as the few she might already have. Coffee and tea drinks often contain sugar, which contributes to tooth decay, especially if she's drinking them from a bottle as she falls asleep. If coffee and tea are replacing breast milk or formula, your little one might not be getting enough calcium, which is vital for strong, healthy teeth now and as she gets older.

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About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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