When can you feed chocolate to babies?

A young boy slyly reaching out for a bar of chocolate.
Mom won’t know if I have just a few bites!

“When can you give chocolate to babies?” To be frank, the thought never occurred to me. It was only when a friend of mine, who has an 8-month-old son, asked me this question that I gave it some serious thought. All I did was try to recollect when was the first time I gave my 5-year-old a bar of chocolate. Five years seems like an awfully long time when you have to think of the tiniest of details like this. The conclusion was that her first-year chocolate birthday cake was the first time she ever tasted chocolate!

Chocolates for babies is not a bad thing but, like my friend here, we should do a little research about these things before we try them out with our kids. Here’s what I understood from all the research I did.

Chocolate for babies: Cause for concern

A friend of mine, who is a new mom herself asked me “Can I give chocolate to my baby? How long should I wait before I give my baby chocolate?” If you are also confused as to what age you should give your baby chocolate, read on:

The two major causes for concern when it comes to chocolate for babies are spikes in blood pressure (caused by the little caffeine chocolate contains) and allergies caused by certain ingredients in the chocolate itself. Though the caffeine in chocolate seems negligible for adults, the same is not true for babies. The heart rate, as well as the blood pressure, could shoot up for the mildest amount of caffeine given to babies.

Chocolate is also known to contain a huge amount of sugar, phenylethylamine, and theobromine that can have an effect on the nervous system of the baby. The anandamide present in chocolate, if consumed in large amounts by babies, can affect the overall functioning of the brain.

Apart from these risks comes the risk of allergens present in chocolate – which is why you should read the labels on chocolates thoroughly to be aware of any possible allergen in the chocolate. The possible allergens in chocolates are:

  • Milk
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Gluten
  • Berries
  • Wheat
  • Peanuts and other nuts (depending on the brand/type of chocolate snack). 

Allergic reactions that you should look out for when you first introduce chocolate to your child are:

  • Rashes
  • Redness in eyes
  • Itching
  • Stomach irritation and loose stools
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Swelling of the throat
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea

Other concerns with giving chocolates to babies

Apart from the health risks associated with chocolates for babies, here are other concerns you should bear in mind before you let your little one take a bite:

  • The primary source of nourishment for babies during the first 6 months is breastmilk. It’s only from the 6th or 7th month that solids are introduced in the baby’s diet. So, giving your baby chocolate within the first 6 months is definitely a bad idea as they cannot digest it.
  • If you think bars of chocolate is safer than candy, think again. Chocolate bars could have nuts or raisins that could make the baby choke.
  • Babies only have milk teeth that are developing slowly. They are prone to tooth decay due to the sugar in chocolates.
  • No baby is going to dislike or forget the taste of chocolate. And as we all know, sugar creates addiction just like any other addictive substance. The last thing you want is your baby craving chocolate over healthy food. So giving him a taste of this sweet treat very early in life isn’t the best idea.

So, when can I introduce chocolates to my baby?

It is safe to say that you can introduce chocolate to your baby once he or she turns a year old. I’m assuming by then you would have introduced solid foods and he or she has developed a taste for them. Only once you’re sure of that should you cave to giving your baby the taste of this beautiful thing that is chocolate!
When do you think is the right time to feed chocolate to babies? When did you introduce chocolate to your little one? Let me know in the comments below.

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