If you love the taste of chocolate, chances are you’re going to want to share some with your baby as a treat. But while chocolate makes you feel good and even has some health benefits, healthcare professionals advise waiting until your baby is a year old before giving him his first taste of chocolate.
One of the reasons is that just like any food, chocolate or otherwise, you need to be careful when introducing new food into your baby’s diet. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises your wait three to five days between each new food you introduce to your baby when you’re weaning him onto solids. This way you can watch out for any food reactions that might indicate an allergy.
According to the CDC, the eight most common allergenic foods are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. While milk and peanuts are often used in many regular chocolate products, what you might not know is that they may also contain traces of soy, which some children are allergic to.
The main reason why doctors want you to wait before introducing chocolate to your baby is because of the amount of added sugar and caffeine found in a serving of most chocolate products. (Did you know just 28g of milk chocolate contains 4mg of caffeine?) While there’s no specific guidelines on how and when you should introduce chocolate to your baby, most experts suggest not introducing sweets for at least the first year of your baby’s life. However, the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) takes it a step further and highly recommends you skip the chocolate until the age of two.
While an occasional bite of chocolate may not cause harm, giving your baby chocolate (or any sweets) as a treat frequently can not only lead to tooth decay, but also put him in danger of developing illnesses like diabetes and obesity later on.
Chat to your paediatrician or your GP if you have a specific question or concern about introducing a new food to your baby.
Healthy chocolate alternatives
All the above doesn’t mean that your baby can never have chocolate, there are healthier alternatives that will satisfy his sweet tooth.
Content editor and writer on Living & Loving, Sonya has over 25 years experience in the media industry. She edited Living & Loving magazine for six-and-a-half years and is the former editor of Longevity magazine. She’s won numerous media industry awards and is passionate about the health and wellbeing of moms and children.
Outside of work, she enjoys trying out recipes, reading crime mysteries and thrillers, practicing yoga, and exploring new destinations.
Learn more about Sonya Naudé.