Chocolate and Children: Guide and Advice
As well as being a valuable mood enhancer, when consumed in the right quantities, chocolate helps our mood and benefits our bodies. But from what age can it be given to children? And what is the best type? Before making any decisions regarding your child's health, our advice is to consult your paediatrician so that you are clear about the most appropriate diet for each period of your child's life.
Giving chocolate to babies
To answer these questions, a distinction must be made between cocoa and chocolate. After weaning, which takes place around the child's first birthday, it is possible to introduce their first taste of cocoa by means of special products for infants, such as cocoa biscuits designed for early childhood, or soluble products that can be added to milk. However, it is important to check the product label carefully to ensure that there is not too much added fat or sugar. When reading the ingredients on the label, remember that the first ingredients on the list are those contained in the greatest quantities in the product.
Is chocolate bad for young children?
No, chocolate is not bad for children. It is important to note, however, that because it contains sugar and fat as well as cocoa, it should be eaten in moderation, as the liver and kidneys of children are not yet able to process large quantities of these substances.
Furthermore, it should be borne in mind that chocolate contains stimulants, which is why it is best to give it to children before lunch or as an afternoon snack, but never after dinner.
Chocolate rarely causes allergic reactions, but again it is important to understand what kind of chocolate to give to children: it’s best to avoid chocolate with nuts or hazelnut paste, for example, which are very common allergens.
At what age can chocolate be given to children?
Chocolate, unlike cocoa, can be introduced into children's diets from the age of two. However, it’s always a good idea to seek the advice of your doctor before giving chocolate to children.
But which of the various types of chocolate is best for small children? Of course, the chocolate we give our children must be of high quality and not contain too much sugar and saturated fat. Dark chocolate is ideal; a high percentage of cocoa is the recommended option, but there is a risk that children will not enjoy the taste. Then milk chocolate, which is sweeter and smoother, is also fine, as long as it contains a high percentage of cocoa, as for example in the recipe for Venezuela 47% Milk Chocolate. White chocolate is best avoided because it contains no cocoa and a high percentage of sugar and fat. Without doubt, the best chocolates for children are those without fillings or nuts, both to avoid possible allergies and because they are easier to chew.
Chocolate and cocoa can also be used to make tasty home-made cakes and pies and are valuable allies in persuading children to eat fruit and yoghurt or drink milk with a pinch of cocoa.