Almost all kids love chocolate and quite naturally. It’s sweet, and it’s delicious, and there is virtually nothing to not like about it. It is quite apparent that babies would also relish this globally loved snack. However, many parents are concerned about the right time to introduce chocolate to their babies. This may be stemmed out of concerns about health and allergies that can be caused due to chocolates.
Can Babies Eat Chocolate?
While babies enjoy the taste of chocolate, it is best to refrain from giving it to them as it contains a small amount of caffeine. Although not present in quantities enough to affect an adult, for babies this may be more than enough. Caffeine is a stimulant and can increase blood pressure and heart rate.
Chocolate also contains other stimulants like sugar, theobromine, and phenylethylamine, all which can cause stimulating effects in your baby in the nervous system. Moreover, chocolate also has anandamide, which can affect the functioning of the brain.
When to Introduce Chocolate to Your Baby?
If you are unsure about at what age can babies eat chocolate, here’s your answer. It is best to wait until your baby is at least a year old before introducing chocolate to him. When you do decide to give your baby chocolate, ensure that there are no potential allergens that can cause reactions. It is also best to start with dark chocolate.
How Do You Introduce Chocolate to Babies?
While there are no specific guidelines on how correctly you should be introducing chocolate to your little one, it is best to start with a taste after he is one year old. If he has no negative reaction to it, you can gradually increase the quantity little by little.
You may also want to add some dark chocolate powder to milk and give it babies. Milk should not be introduced to children under one. Always ensure that you check the labels for additives in chocolates.
Allergies Found in Chocolate
There isn’t enough evidence to suggest that chocolate can cause an allergy in babies. However, it is possible that chocolate may contain food items that can cause allergies in babies. Some of the potential allergens are:
- Peanuts and other nuts
- Gluten and wheat
You can always get the labels for allergy caution before giving chocolate to your baby.
Spotting A Food Allergy
Children with parents or siblings with an allergy are more likely to have allergies. Even though there is no history of allergies at home, you will need to look out for signs and symptoms that indicate an allergy in your baby.
Some signs include:
- Rashes or hives
- Asthmatic symptoms or difficulty breathing
- Constant sneezing
- Redness in the eyes or watery eyes
- Swelling of the throat and the tongue
- Diarrhoea or vomiting
In such cases, you will need to consult your baby’s doctor right away or reach out to a specialized allergy specialist to treat the condition.
Other Concerns Related Giving Chocolate To Your Infant
Apart from allergies, there are a few other concerns that you may want to keep in mind when it comes to chocolate and babies consuming chocolate.
- Digestion: Babies are used to breast milk for the first six months, and his digestive system may not be conditioned to process chocolate or other solid foods. Hence, it is best to wait until he’s a year and older and had tried other solid foods.
- Healthy foods: It is better to keep chocolate away from the baby until he’s tried out healthy foods and has developed a taste for them. If your baby gets an early taste of chocolate, he may shun healthy food.
- Tooth decay: Babies are just developing their baby teeth which are more prone to tooth decay caused by sugar. Sugar promotes the growth of acid producing bacteria which can lead to poor dental health.
- Choking hazard: Chocolates that contain nuts or hard candies can be a choking hazard to babies and hence best avoided.
It is important to establish a healthy food preference in babies at a young age. While an occasional bite of chocolate may not cause harm, it should only be given in moderation.