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Can a 1-Year-Old Eat Chocolate?

By Sarah Thompson

Children love sweets, and chocolate is one of them. Though these sweets can soothe a cranky child, they can do more harm than good. In addition to replacing potentially healthy snack alternatives and adding extra calories, feeding your toddler chocolate can have behavioral implications and produce negative physical reactions.

A One-Year-Old’s Diet

The diet of a 1-year-old should be packed with vitamins and nutrients. These should come from meats, fruits, grains, whole milk and vegetables, according to the Medline Plus website. Toddlers eat small portions of food--snacks--four to six times a day. Chocolate is not the best snacking option because over time it can contribute to obesity, cavities and tooth decay.

Caffeine in Your Toddler’s Diet

Chocolate contains caffeine, a stimulant that can be felt in the body within 15 minutes of consumption. Different chocolate products have different amounts of caffeine. For instance, one 8-oz. glass of chocolate milk has 5 ml of caffeine. This compares to 1.45 oz. of dark chocolate, which provides 20 ml of caffeine, almost half the 45 ml maximum for toddlers, according to Canadian guidelines.

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Physical Implications

Adding chocolate to your child’s diet can contribute to tooth decay, as well as spoil his appetite, according to Medline Plus. Caffeine can overly stimulate your child, cause an upset stomach and lead to difficulty concentrating and sleeping, high blood pressure and headaches, according to the Toddlers Today website.

Allergic Reactions

Certain foods, including chocolate, can cause an allergic reaction in your child. Mild allergic reactions are hives, itchiness, redness and nasal congestion. A severe allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, also can occur. Anaphylaxis can be fatal and is characterized by shock, a blood pressure drop and narrow breathing, says the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include rapid or weak pulse, dizziness and nausea.

Considerations

Caffeine can interact with medications your toddler may be taking, causing unexpected side effects. These side effects can vary in symptoms and severity.

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