It's rare to find a child or an adult who doesn't love the sweet, rich, creamy taste of chocolate. With Easter around the corner, parents may be wondering, 'should I give my baby a taste..?'
Even if parents aren't considering this yet for their little one, well-meaning family members may want to offer their baby a taste, or want to buy them an Easter egg as a gift.
We wanted to see what our community thought, so we ran a series of Insta polls. A whopping 80% of parents said the Easter Bunny was going to be visiting their house this weekend!
However, when we asked our followers ‘Will your little one have some chocolate this Easter?” the results were very split. 55% of parents voted for ‘A little’, while 45% voted ‘not yet!’
So from a nutritional perspective, when is it is okay for parents to let their baby try some chocolate?
Can I give my baby chocolate?
The short answer is there are no 'official' guidelines for introducing chocolate to babies.
Chocolate doesn’t offer babies much in terms of nutrition. As their intake of solids is so tiny during weaning, it makes sense to make sure they're getting the most nutrient-dense food as this stage, such as vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and whole grains. Chocolate contains none of these!
While chocolate doesn't appear on the NHS website's list of foods to avoid giving babies, it is loaded with sugar which sits firmly in second place below salt. When consumed in large quantities can lead to problems such as heart disease, diabetes and tooth decay. Babies, toddler and young children usually love the sweet taste that the sugar offers. This can hinder their acceptance of more bitter tastes which are usually healthier if they aren't exposed to a wide variety of flavours.
To avoid tooth decay, it's also best to serve a small amount of chocolate after or with a meal. This is because when we eat, the amount of saliva in our mouths increases and helps to neutralise the impact of sugar on baby tooth enamel.
As a general rule, we recommend avoiding chocolate for babies under 12 months, and limiting intake for babies and toddlers aged 12 months and over.
Will giving my baby chocolate cause them harm?
In reality, a small bit of chocolate won't cause your baby any harm as long as their usual diet is varied and their teeth are brushed after eating it. So if your baby does try some, they will be okay. Chocolate is an unnecessary addition with little nutritional benefit, but it's not toxic! If you do let your baby try some, you're not a bad parent!
What kind of chocolate should I give my baby?
In terms or white/milk/dark chocolate, there isn't a huge difference. Milk and dark do contain slightly higher levels of caffeine which should be avoided for babies, however all 3 times contain lots of sugar which is the main cause of concern.
Texture and portion size is perhaps more important to consider when deciding to let your baby try chocolate. Hard chocolate can pose a choking risk to little ones, so we'd recommend avoiding giving babies and toddlers small, grape-sized easter eggs for this reason. If they receive a big egg this Easter, break a portion off for them to try so they don't gobble down the whole thing and end up feeling sick!
You can also consider baking or cooking with chocolate and offering a small serving as opposed to an actual piece of chocolate. Lucy Meck (from TOWIE, a fan and friend of Mamamade!) recently shared her oat milk and dark choc chip pancakes recipe for her son Roman on Instagram. These pancakes can be sliced into fingers, perfect for BLW! You can follow Lucy and check out her stories for more BLW tips.
Remember, like ice cream, chocolate should be a treat for your toddler, not a standard part of their daily diet! For more weaning tips and advice, download our Free Weaning Guide.