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My 10 month old has developed a liking for chocolate. Her grandparents are responsible. I asked my parents to stop giving her chocolate but they still do it when I am absent.

She can now recognize the word "chocolate" and raise her hand to ask for it.

She only has two teeth so far. Is she going to have bad gums or have any health complications?

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Ah, grandparents. Don't you just love them? :) –  JBRWilkinson Apr 29 '14 at 8:13

4 Answers 4

A diet high in sugar can have an adverse affect on development. Virtually anything can have an adverse effect on development depending on who you talk to. Feeding your child too much or too little, letting them sleep too much or too little or go to sleep too early or late, switching toward mushy foods and then solids too soon or late, beginning to discipline your child too soon or late, too much or too little, there's someone, somewhere, with a study saying it's bad, and if you take all of them together you come to the inevitable conclusion that everything you are doing as a parent, no matter what you're doing as a parent, is wrong. Yet, somehow, the human race keeps on producing halfway-decent people.

Case in point, about chocolate being bad for your baby, the more cautious say that it's best to wait till the one-year mark, or at the very least, until she's shown that she's not allergic to or intolerant of dairy, fruit or "tree nuts" (i.e. almonds; an allergy to any of these can indicate a probable allergy to chocolate), and then chocolate should be given sparingly in small doses to ensure she's not allergic to cocoa specifically. However, chocolate allergies are extremely rare (less so than peanut allergies; most pediatricians are much more rabid about feeding your child peanut butter before age 1 than chocolate), especially in children of parents who've never had a problem with chocolate or any other food allergy. Gum disease etc. are also pretty low on the list of worries.

The bigger concern is that feeding a baby sweets regularly gives her a lot of carb energy in a very small package, decreasing her hunger in general, and the good taste can make her stop eating things that aren't so sweet, like baby food, insisting only on candy (or at least the sweeter baby foods like fruits). That leads to a host of issues with growth, development and nutritional habits, but since you as the parent are opposed to feeding her sweets in the first place, this is also unlikely to be a problem.

You should be less worried about the baby, and more worried about the grandparents. Having them pointedly ignore your wishes as the parent as to how your daughter is to be cared for indicates serious boundary and discipline issues which need to be addressed now. If they're willing to ignore your mandate that they not feed her chocolate, what else are they willing to ignore that could be much more harmful to your child growing up? If consistent discipline isn't enforced by all caregivers, your daughter will come to resent the more authoritarian of them (you) and prefer the people who give her anything she wants (grammy and grampy). You have to set boundaries, with consequences. You're the parent now, not them, meaning you dish the discipline. That goes up as well as down; you get to tell your parents what to do and not do when it comes to your child.

How you back up these rules with disciplinary measures is a judgment call on your part based on your situation, but one thing is certain, you must make them understand that no means no, just as you have to teach that to your child. As much as I hate to recommend it, you may have to draw the line and say that if you find out that they've given her chocolate ever again, they're no longer welcome to have her over or to come over to see her.

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+1 for both nutritional and caretaker advice! Very thorough, and I totally agree: the grandparents need to listen! –  Erica May 2 '13 at 18:51
Absolutely! This is much more of a boundary issue than a health issue. Sometimes it takes something drastic for grandparents to take parents seriously--can't tell you the arguments my mom and I have had surrounding boundary issues. –  Meg Coates May 4 '13 at 4:32

Others have addressed dietary issues, I'll just comment on teeth and gums.

There's nothing any worse for your kid's teeth and gums with chocolate (or any other sweet) than there is any other fermentable carbohydrate. It might take up residence in more places in her mouth than, say, bread would, but nothing about it will be worse than apple juice would be or the milk/formula she's already getting.

Which is not to give chocolate a pass from potential negative repercussions, but they are repercussions likely happening as a result of other foods you're likely giving her happily. So you need to stay on top of the oral care you should be starting already with a baby toothbrush and getting her used to the idea of brushing.

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If the chocolate is in small doses and you/grandparents are brushing her teeth properly, there won't be a problem. I'm sure you eat chocolate, and probably have done for many years. Do you have bad gums or other health complications?

Kicking your parents (or in-laws) to the kerb because they give your child chocolate is not a good option, in my opinion. They managed to raise you (or your partner) successfully, so I'm pretty sure they won't do anything to harm your child.

By all means, talk to them and tell them you're not happy, but don't cut them off!

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He never suggested cutting them off or kicking them to the curb. Also, the National Institutes for Health in the US recommends waiting until children are at least 1 year before they begin to have chocolate (or anything else with caffeine): –  smillig May 3 '13 at 13:05
@smillig Very nice link with lot of information. Thank You! –  Namshum May 4 '13 at 7:05

It would be one thing for the grandparents to supplement your kid's diet with essential nutrients if, for some reason, you were unable to provide them yourself. However, chocolate is not an essential nutrient, and I presume that your child's diet is not lacking in those that are essential.

As other posters here have stated, the principal issue here is the fact that your own parents are undermining your decisions and your authority as the parent of your child. If they can't be made to see this and accept that you should have the final word on whether it is fed chocolate, then they must forfeit the privilege of spending unsupervised time with your offspring.

If, despite this precaution, they continue to violate your prohibition against giving chocolate to your kid, you'll have to seriously consider cutting off all contact between your parents and their grandchild.

However, because that would be a drastic step having adverse repercussions for your child as well as for its grandparents, I'd first try to include the input of your pediatrician -- who would presumably back your side of the argument -- in your discussion with your parents.

Meanwhile, I can't escape the suspicion that part of the struggle you are having with your parents may be a continuation of some relationship issues involving you and them that long precede the birth of your child. It is possible that resolving that situation (if my surmise is correct) may be the ultimate key to getting your parents to properly accept your authority over how you bring up their grandchild(ren).

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