Toddlers may not be your typical Starbucks clientele, but at least one study suggests a fair number know how to enjoy a cup of joe. The study was highly specific and thus probably can't be applied to the general population, Real Clear Science reports: It dealt with about 300 moms in Boston, about 80% of whom weren't born in the US and most of whom were Hispanic—and other studies suggest Hispanic cultures drink coffee younger, notes the lead Boston researcher. Even so, the results in the Journal of Human Lactation may come as a surprise. Some 15.2% of respondents said they routinely gave their 2-year-olds coffee. That's 48 mothers giving their kids an average of an ounce of coffee daily.
But questions remain over what kind of damage—if any—that could do. "Almost no research exists" on the subject of caffeine consumption in young kids, notes Real Clear Science, though the researchers found one suggesting that 2-year-olds into coffee and tea faced triple the risk of kindergarten obesity. Five doctors interviewed by LiveScience for an earlier story all warned against allowing kids to drink much caffeine, with the most lenient of them saying, "At best it's no harm, at worse, it can cause a lot of side effects that aren't necessary." The bottom line, says the Boston researcher, is that more study is needed about the coffee-drinking habits of the very young and the particular risks involved. (And then there's the danger of spills.)