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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. However, many parents are concerned about the right time to introduce chocolate to their babies. This stems from concerns about health and allergies that can be caused due to chocolates.
While babies would 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 that can increase blood pressure and heart rate.
Chocolate also contains other stimulants like sugar, theobromine, and phenylethylamine, all of which can have stimulating effects on your baby’s nervous system. Moreover, chocolate also has anandamide, which can affect the functioning of the brain, if consumed in large quantities.
When to Introduce Chocolate to Your Baby?
If you are unsure about what age babies can 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 decide to give chocolate to your baby, ensure that there are no potential allergens that can cause reactions. It is also best to start with dark chocolate.
While there are no specific guidelines on how 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 can also add some dark chocolate powder to milk and give it your baby. However, chocolate milk has high amounts of sugar, so it should be given in moderation. Milk should not be introduced to children under the age one. Always ensure that you check the labels for additives in chocolates.
Allergens Found in Chocolate
There isn’t enough evidence that suggests that chocolate can cause an allergy in babies. However, it is possible that chocolate may contain elements that can cause allergies in babies. Some of the potential allergens are:
- Peanuts and other nuts
- Gluten and wheat
Make sure you always read the labels for allergy caution before giving chocolate to your baby.
Children whose parents or siblings have an allergy are more likely to have allergies. Even if 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 tongue
- Diarrhoea or vomiting
In such cases, you will need to consult your baby’s doctor right away or reach out to an allergy specialist to treat the condition.
Other Concerns Related to Giving Chocolate to Your Baby
Apart from allergies, there are a few other concerns that you should keep in mind when giving chocolate to your baby.
- Digestion: Babies are used to breast milk for the first six months, and their digestive systems are not conditioned to process chocolate or other solid foods. Hence, it is best to wait until your baby is a year old and has tried other solid foods.
- Aversion to 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 should be avoided.
It is important to establish a preference for healthy food in babies at a young age. While an occasional bite of chocolate may not cause harm, giving your baby a lot of chocolate from a young age could put him at risk of developing chronic illnesses like diabetes and obesity. Therefore, chocolate should only be given in moderation.