Search IconSearch

Are Energy Drinks for Kids a Good Idea?

Why kids and caffeine just don’t mix

preteen drinks and energy drink while playing

With their neon colors and flashy designs, energy drinks are oh-so-tempting to young eyes. So, when your tween is begging for a bottle of one and you’re tired of arguing, would it be the worst idea to cave and let them have one?


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Pediatric dietitian Diana Schnee, MS, RD, CSP, LD says it’s best to steer clear. “These drinks are marketed in a way that’s really appealing,” Schnee says. “But they can be harmful to kids.”

Schnee explains why energy drinks and kids don’t mix.

Is caffeine bad for kids?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t have official guidelines about kids and caffeine. But pediatric experts say kids under the age of 12 should avoid caffeine, and those over 12 should limit it to no more than 100 milligrams (about two cans of cola) per day.

If your kids sometimes drink caffeinated soda or enjoy an iced latte at the coffee shop, you might think that energy drinks aren’t much different. Think again.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that energy drinks should be totally off-limits to kids and adolescents.

A cup of cola contains about 45 milligrams of caffeine, while a cup of coffee has about twice that. Energy drinks vary widely, depending on the brand and the size of the can or bottle. But some can pack a punch of 400 milligrams or even 500 milligrams of caffeine per container. That’s a lot.

Plus, the FDA doesn’t regulate the amount of caffeine in beverages, Schnee says, so you can’t always trust what you see on the label. “A can might say it contains 200 milligrams but actually has 250. There’s no regulation.”

Here’s something else that parents might not be aware of. Many energy drinks contain a variety of stimulants besides caffeine, including herbal supplements or other natural stimulants from plants. That all adds up to a serious case of bouncing off the walls.

Energy drinks and kids: health risks

What’s the harm in a little energy boost? Energy drinks do more than make kids hyper. High amounts of caffeine can cause uncomfortable side effects and even harm a child’s health.

These problems include:

  • Sleep disruption.
  • Jumpiness or restlessness.
  • Increased anxiety.
  • Mood swings.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Seizures.

“Regularly consuming energy drinks puts the body in an elevated state of stress,” Schnee says. “Over time, that can affect children’s developing brains and cardiovascular systems.”

What age can you safely have energy drinks? Schnee says there’s no age at which she’d say energy drinks are A-OK. “I wouldn’t even recommend that adults drink them.”

Caffeine withdrawal

Caffeine is also addictive, especially when you’re regularly consuming high doses. “Caffeine might be legal, but it’s still a drug,” Schnee says.

Kids who drink a lot of caffeine and then quit can experience withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue.
  • Headaches.
  • Irritability.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Difficulty concentrating.

How to get more energy naturally

How do you handle a kid who really wants to drink the stuff in the cool can? “Sit down and talk to them about it,” Schnee suggests. “Ask why they want it. Is it because their friends are drinking it? Or do they feel like they have low energy?”

If they complain of feeling sluggish, you can work together to find natural ways to give them a boost. Schnee suggests starting with the basics:

  • Move more.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Eat balanced meals.
  • Take a multivitamin.
  • Drink enough water.


“Rather than just putting a caffeinated bandage on the problem, look for ways to give them a jump-start,” she says.

Energy drink alternatives

Many kids are simply tempted by the colors and flavors of energy drinks. So help them find alternative beverages. True, caffeine-free soda is an option, but there are healthier choices that aren’t full of sugar.

Schnee suggests these sugar-free, caffeine-free alternatives:

  • Unsweetened, flavored seltzer water (like those flavored with fruit essences).
  • Plain water infused with sliced lemons or berries.
  • Herbal teas (served hot or cold).

Bottom line? Like buying your kids a pony or letting them have ice cream for every meal, put energy drinks on your “not gonna happen” list. End of discussion. “There are better ways to get energy,” Schnee says.


Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Woman breastfeeding baby on couch
How Long To Breastfeed: What the Guidelines Say and What To Consider

Recommendations encourage breast milk exclusively for baby’s first six months and continuing to provide human milk until age 2 and beyond

Glass of celery juice with stalk garnish
May 16, 2024/Weight Loss
Celery Juice Is a Trendy Detox Drink, but Does It Actually Have Benefits?

While it isn’t bad for you, celery juice isn’t the detox phenom it’s claimed to be

Happy toddler holding sippy cup
May 6, 2024/Children's Health
Baby Steps: Tips to Transition From Formula to Milk

Slowly introducing cow’s milk (or soy milk) can help your child make the change

Juiced fruits and veggies dispensing from a juicer on counter in kitchen
April 24, 2024/Weight Loss
What You Need To Know About Juicing for Weight Loss

Juicing cleanses don’t target fat loss — and you’ll lose important nutrients in the process

Caregiver spoon feeding baby in highchair at the table
April 23, 2024/Children's Health
When Your Baby Can Have Honey

In babies under 12 months, honey may cause a serious illness called infant botulism

Close up of hand holding a scoop of powder baby formula over container of powder baby formula
February 23, 2024/Children's Health
Feeding Your Baby: How and When to Supplement With Formula

When breastfeeding doesn’t go as planned, you may need to supplement with formula or donor breast milk — and that’s OK

overhead photograph of open and empty energy drinks
February 19, 2024/Nutrition
Are Energy Drinks Bad for You?

Regularly drinking these sugar-fueled, stimulant-laden beverages can increase your risk of adverse health effects

fire cider in a mason jar
Fire Cider: What Is It? And Can It Prevent Illness?

This spicy concoction can do more harm than good, upsetting your stomach and causing painful acid reflux

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims