Caffeine for ADHD (Almost 5 Years Old)

Updated on June 26, 2010
E.M. asks from Boulder, CO
14 answers

My almost 5 year old starts Pre-K this fall. She will have an IEP for ADHD. Her psychiatrist said she is too young for most meds still (except one for hyperactivity that doesn't help with concentration, just lowers physical activity levels). I was thinking caffeine might be a good thing to try but I am unsure how much to give her and what form to give it to her in. I am just testing her now with half of a small can of Red Bull because I've heard that the taurine and B vitamines are also good for ADHD. She not bouncing off the walls by any means right but playing quietly with dolls with a friend (this is typical when friends are over because she LOVES doing this) but I also heard her upstairs trying to sound out some words in a book before her friend came over. I had given her the Red Bull about 15 minutes before this. Any tips?

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So What Happened?

Well, this is how it turned out. She had 1/2 can of Red Bull (40 mg caffeine) at 3 pm. She played quietly, did some sidewalk chalk drawing, practiced writing--her own decision and tried to sound out some words in books. She hardly did any of the gross motor activities to which she usually gravitates (trampoline, swing, rope swing) and fell asleep like an angel promptly at 8 pm. I have no idea how much that amount of caffeine given to a non-ADHD kid at 3 pm would affect them. Someone try on your kid and let me know. :) But I think she was pretty mellow so that to me confirms true ADHD and not food allergies etc and I will have to tinker around with the amount. I actually had found online that Red Bull is not that bad for ADHD kids, contrary to what one might think. Does Coke Zero have aspartame or artificial sweeteners? I am not crazy about those. That is why I am wondering is there anyway to give a kid caffeine without the sugar and junk that usually goes into those drinks? Some even recommend Taurine supplements and B vitamins for ADHD and we already pump her full of Omegas. Keep the answers coming, Any insight is appreciated.

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answers from Denver on

I give my child coffee with lots of milk and a little sugar when she needs some extra help. She does take Ritalin twice a day. I would highly recommend you reconsider using Red Bull for such a young child - try cola instead. Red Bull has a ton of sugar and may have other side effects for such a young child.


I give my child coffee with lots of milk and a little sugar when she needs some extra help. She does take Ritalin twice a day. I would highly recommend you reconsider using Red Bull for such a young child - try cola instead. Red Bull has a ton of sugar and may have other side effects for such a young child.

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answers from Sacramento on

Yes, it can help, but only for a short stretch. We gave our son Cokes until we could get in with a psychiatrist. I'm surprised at your psychiatrist's response. Our son started Ritalin when he was four and it made all the difference in the world for him. The psychiatrist did say they don't prescribe readily at this age, but it was critical for our son because he was extreme. So, you may want to get a second opinion so you can get help for your child. Behavioral therapy just didn't work for our son until we combined it with medication and then wow, amazing results. I can't say enough good things about what medication has done for him.

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answers from Casper on

I think the red bull idea is great. You can always go the sugar free red bull if you dont want her having all that suger. My friend started giving her son alittle red bull when he was 3. He was to young for most meds and the ones they gave him turned the poor little guy into a zombie. If you find something that works for you and your daughter I wouldnt let other peoples opinions sway you to change. I think your a great mom for wanting to help your daughter. Plus finding ways to keep yourself sane always helps. lol

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answers from Columbus on

That is odd that your psychiatrist is resistant to stimulant medications at his age. You might seek a second opinion, because it is quite common practice, and the stimulants will have the same kind of effect, only more predicatble, and longer lasting. Strattera may be the drug your psychiatrist is talking about, it is a non stimulant ADHD medication, but it does aid in inattention and is not nearly as effective for my child as a stimulant is for controling hyperactivity, so I would say at least one kid does just the opposite of what your psychiatrist told you. Worth a look at someone elses opinion, since it seems a little far off what most of us have heard from psychiatrists.

Many untreated adults with ADHD drink coffee or soda and chain smoke to self medicate, so there is a long history of using caffine. You could also try viviran or nodose, but I would talk to the doctor about all of it first. I think I have even seen cafinated water somewhere!

You saw what most of us see, that it is not our imagination, it is not red food coloring, it is not her diet, and it is not your parenting, it is how her brain funcitons. Getting her on the right dosages of the right meds once she is old enough if you stick with this psychiatrist and it will make even more of a difference.


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answers from Minneapolis on

This is a less common, but yet used practice by a number of parents. When my brother was little (he is 27 now) my mom would give him a Mt. Dew and a candy bar to eat before a long car ride (he is ADHD) and she swore by it . . . I would say that the biggest things are the sugar (hard on the teeth) and the dye (folks swear that certain dyes make behavior worse). However, if it works for your kiddo, I would say go for it :) 2 of my kids are on stimulants and it is a God send for us and for them. However, my girlfriend swears by a vitamin/supplement that she gets for her son. You could always check that out, too, until your kiddo is old enough for an actual prescribed stimulant.

Good luck!



answers from Augusta on

Caffine does help but does not last as long as the meds.
We give our daughter coke zero when we forget to get her meds refilled.
Coke zero has the caffine but no sugar.
We also give her a vitamin B supplement and an Omega-3 vitamin.
Getting rid of some of the hyper activity can help with the focus issue.
I wouldn't give her red bull though. It's got a ton of other stuff that's not good for her.



answers from Pueblo on

I have used coffee for my boys many times. It does help a little. Actually they started buying my one son Mnt Dew at school to help him out there. They had my permission. Many parents use caffeine before after and during school hours. Just make sure you get it in her IEP that she can have soda at school. Most Elm schools discourage caffeinated drinks for most kids. I know most Doc's wont medicate this young. They normally wait until sometime in the second or third year of school around 7. They want to make sure its not something a kid will just out grow.



answers from Dallas on

I have heard caffeine is good for ADHD students when taking tests - it helps them focus. If it helps them with that, I would think it would help throughout the day. Good luck!



answers from Grand Junction on

I'm not sure Red Bull is the answer. There is a lot of sugar which might counteract the caffeine effect you are looking for. Does your pediatrician have any recommendations? I had a friend in his 20's who had a heart attack from drinking red Bull, of course he was drinking something like 5-10 a day.



answers from Honolulu on

Riley J. will have great answers for you on this one.
She's a good responder here on MamaPedia.


answers from Kansas City on

i think every kid is different, and it depends on the severity of your daughter's adhd. it's not just black and white, either she has it or she doesn't. i had a friend whose son was adhd and she gave him 1/2 a can of dr. pepper in the mornings before school, and it got him through the day. (she may have let him have more at lunch or something, not sure). you're probably just going to have to experiment a little bit. start small and see what works. those energy drinks worry me though, i would go more with a coke zero or something. they also have crystal light strawberry "with energy", which are a lot better for you, but i don't know if it's just caffeine in it or what. i definitely prefer them over soda. but that's just for me. might be something to look into?


answers from New York on

I have heard of kids drinking coke for ADHD. I am not sure how long the effects last. My son's principal told me that her son has ADHD and that he goes to the nurse's office during the day to have a coke. She feels that it helps. I have heard others claim the same. I do not have any first hand experience with this method. I have read that it is controversial practice. But it does not hurt to try.


answers from Dallas on

I have not heard of caffeine as a help for ADHD. I kinda of get where you are going but not so sure it will work that way or if it did, whether the benefits will outweigh the negatives. I am a Shaklee Independent Distributor and I have heard of certain vitamins and herb that may be helpful, including B, but not caffeine. Sorry, but I'm not so sure caffeine is the way to go. Here is an internet article on why caffeine is not recommended for kids:



answers from Denver on

I'm surprised by all the moms who think Red Bull, Coke and even a prescription for ADHD is a good solution. I know how draining a child with ADHD can be, but there are other healthier solutions. Diet makes a world of difference with kids with ADHD.
Here are a few sites that you will find helpful:

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