Everybody loves Starbucks. You may have experienced this truth firsthand if you’ve ever stopped in with your little ones in tow and found them begging for delicious hot treats of their own.
Kids have this adorable habit of wanting to do what their parents do, whether that’s putting on makeup, perusing the daily newspaper, or enjoying an afternoon pick-me-up in an iconic green cup.
Most parents, though, are understandably wary about giving their children beverages loaded with caffeine, sugar, and other energy-spiking substances.
Worry not—as it happens, Starbucks has several offerings that are well-suited for the younger palate.
Here are the best kids’ Starbucks drinks prudent parents can order for their offspring. Some are tried-and-true favorites that you can easily modify to be more child-friendly.
Others are “secret” menu items or simple concoctions formulated especially for blooming coffee enthusiasts. All are Restaurant Clicks-approved.
Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk
Better known to some faithful Starbucks drinkers as the “Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso,” the unleaded variation eschews the espresso, goes heavy on the oat milk, and retains the dash of brown sugar and cinnamon that lend it its lip-smacking yumminess.
The result is a delightful non-dairy milk drink that’s perfect for those crisp early fall mornings before temperatures begin to dip.
With only 20 grams of sugar in a 16-ounce cup—surprisingly little for such a mixed drink—the Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk is delicious enough to satisfy your child’s sweet tooth without sending them into a full-blown sugar frenzy. You can thank me later.
Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino
This incredibly decadent frozen drink is made by combining ice, milk, and rich caramel syrup with a splash of Starbucks iced coffee. Yet, that’s only the beginning.
Once it’s been blended to an irresistibly creamy consistency, it’s finished with a layer of gooey caramel sauce, a dollop of whipped cream, an extra drizzle of caramel (just for good measure), and a dusting of crunchy caramel sugar.
The Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino is essentially a dessert in a cup, which means it may work better as an after-school treat than an after-dinner one unless you don’t mind your child having a little bit of coffee closer to bedtime.
Ask for decaf coffee if your child can’t have caffeine.
Iced Strawberry Milk
Here, you have the option of either sticking with the primary pairing of milk and strawberry purée or upgrading to the bougie frozen version, which is blended with ice and crowned with a sky-high mound of fluffy vanilla whipped cream.
The Iced Strawberry Milk is one of my personal favorite kids’ drinks at Starbucks for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, it reminds me of the summers of my youth, throwing down little pink cartons of strawberry milk in my grandmother’s kitchen.
Secondly, it’s a great way to let your child take part in the excitement of getting something from the beloved coffee chain without handing them something you wouldn’t let them have at home.
White Hot Chocolate
Starbucks’ signature White Hot Chocolate is a cold-weather cure massively popular with kids and parents alike.
Despite consisting of only two ingredients, a smooth white chocolate sauce base and a few ounces of steamed milk, it’s a supremely flavorful beverage that warms and awakens with every comforting sip.
Fair warning: a White Hot Chocolate contains a staggering amount of sugar (roughly 60 grams in a Grande), so I advise opting for the 8-ounce “Short” size and possibly even splitting up a single drink if you have multiple tots partaking.
Vanilla Bean Frappuccino
No list of Starbucks kids drinks would be complete without the inclusion of the classic Vanilla Bean Frappuccino.
Is it just a glorified milkshake? Yes. But is it undeniably delicious? Also yes. Seriously, who doesn’t love a vanilla milkshake?
I confidently predict this crowd-pleaser will go over well with picky eaters who might turn up their noses at unfamiliar items but don’t want to go home empty-handed.
The Vanilla Bean Frappuccino isn’t just for kids, either, it’s one of the Frappuccinos that pretty much everyone loves.
Steamed Vanilla Milk
If your mini-me is clamoring for a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino or White Hot Chocolate, but the sugar content of those beverages puts you off, a Steamed Vanilla Milk can make a nice compromise.
It’s doubtful that your child will miss those several hundred-odd calories, and it’s a sure bet that you won’t.
With Steamed Vanilla Milk, also known as a “Vanilla Steamer,” your child gets their choice of 2% soy, almond, or coconut milk, along with a couple of pumps of vanilla syrup for a bit of sweetness.
This drink has got all the quieting charm of the traditional glass of warm milk before bed. You can enjoy it ‘round the clock.
Let’s be honest—there’s nothing I can tell you about hot chocolate and all its many virtues that you don’t already know.
Chances are, your kids like it too, which is a definite plus.
A delicious, mocha-infused Hot Chocolate is a safe all-season option that’s there for you whenever you’re in a hurry or don’t feel like ordering something more elaborate, or anytime your kid happens to be in the mood for it.
Blended Strawberry Lemonade
Tart, frosty, and oh-so-refreshing, Starbucks’ Blended Lemonades are a slushie-esque twist on the summertime staple.
This one takes the refreshment factor to the next level with zesty strawberry purée and creme frappuccino syrup.
If you’re looking for something more thirst-quenching, you can also ask to have strawberry essence added to regular iced lemonade.
Small children, in particular, will probably have an easier time sipping something that’s not quite so thick.
Either way, the finished product is guaranteed to beat the heat and stave off afternoon tantrums. Don’t be surprised if you get the urge to order one for yourself.
Steamed Milk + Flavor Shot
Ordering drinks for kids at Starbucks doesn’t get any more uncomplicated than this.
The reality is that you don’t need lots of fancy ingredients, brewing techniques, and mix-ins to impress people who aren’t yet old enough to tie their shoelaces.
You only need something with a nice texture and a flavor that they can recognize instantly.
With that in mind, I recommend the dynamic duo of frothy steamed milk and a shot of flavored syrup of whatever variety your child desires. They have plenty of syrups to choose from, many of which have sugar-free counterparts.
It’s a quick fix that’s easy, affordable, and guaranteed to please. What more could you want?
Speaking of steamed milk, Starbucks’ unofficial yet widely honored secret menu is home to a beverage known as the “Babyccino,” which is just a cutesy name for a cappuccino without the espresso.
If you’re not up on your coffee terminology, that’s a cup of steamed milk and nothing else.
The Babyccino was created to appease young children insistent on drinking what Mom and Dad are drinking.
If you’re lucky, your barista may not even charge you to whip one up, as it’s clearly going to a good cause—putting a smile on your little one’s face.
It’s purple. It’s a drink. It’s Starbucks’ enigmatic Purple Drink, which has gone from an obscure specialty order to a quirky go-to for many in-the-know customers in recent years.
Just what is in this plainly nicknamed potion, you ask? That’s a very astute question.
Purple Drink is a delicious mixture of passion iced tea, soy milk, and vanilla syrup which is served chilled with real blueberries and blackberries floating on top. Unorthodox yet highly delectable.
Kids go gaga over strangely colored things, and Purple Drink will surely be no exception.
Just don’t confuse it for its inferior knock-off, Violet Drink, which calls for a premade Berry Refresher juice base and coconut milk.
How to Order Kids’ Drinks at Starbucks
Knowing what to order for your nipper is only half the battle. The other half is knowing how to order it.
Hold the Coffee
Unless you like the idea of inadvertently giving your kid superpowers, it’s a good idea to ask your barista either to go easy on the joe or omit it altogether.
Otherwise, your attempt to be a cool, hip parent may backfire on you when you’re forced to stay awake half the night chasing your caffeine-fueled spawn from pillar to post.
Go With a Smaller Size
Starbucks sells drinks in five standard sizes: Short (8 oz.), Tall (12 oz.), Grande (16 oz.), Venti (20 oz.), and Trenta (30 oz.). Some stores also offer a “Demi,” which at only three ounces is usually used to serve espresso shots.
The Demi or Short sizes will likely be more than enough for children ten and under. Older kids, meanwhile, may be able to handle a Tall, Grande, or even a Venti, depending on how thirsty they are, what’s in it, and how strict you are when it comes to their nutrition.
Be Aware That Some Drinks Contain Caffeine
Although most of the beverages on this list are entirely coffee-free (or can be made that way), some, like the Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino, both Hot Chocolates, and Purple Drink, do contain tea or caffeine-laden coffee derivatives.
As such, you’d be wise to make a different selection if your child has a sensitivity to caffeine or if you’d simply prefer that they don’t consume it.
Let the Barista Know the Drink Is for a Child
When ordering kids’ drinks at Starbucks, start by letting your barista know they’re meant for one of your minions.
They’ll be better able to accommodate your wishes if they know exactly who they’re preparing each beverage for. They might also provide helpful tips and suggestions that can come in handy on future visits.
Who says a trip to Starbucks can’t be fun for the whole family?
The next time you stop at the drive-through, let your kids get in on the action by ordering one (or several) of the items highlighted here. There’s something on the menu for people of all ages, including those that still have trouble with their ABCs.
For your part, you can take pride in the knowledge that you’re raising a new generation of discerning coffee lovers. And if you didn’t find anything on this list, check out our favorite secret menu drinks to order at Starbucks!
Do your kids have a fave drink to order? Leave us a comment with their favorite one!