Are you a nursing mom? Do you crave chocolate, but don’t give in to the temptation because you worry it’s not safe for your breastfeeding baby? If you answered yes to these questions, you aren’t alone. Chocolate is quite tempting, and you’ve probably been avoiding it because you’re pregnant and/or nursing.
Is it safe to eat chocolate when you’re breastfeeding? We’re going to answer this question and help you understand how to make the right choice for your body and baby. You’re going to learn about the ingredients that could cause problems and how much you can safely eat while breastfeeding.
Can You Eat Chocolate While Breastfeeding?
The quick answer is yes, but there are a few considerations here. Of course, you should eat it in moderation, as with most things in life. Still, there are other factors to consider, especially if you want to avoid problems from eating chocolate.
Most new moms don’t notice negative effects after eating small amounts of chocolate and then breastfeeding. Some of the chocolate’s ingredients can be transferred to the baby through the breastmilk, but you must eat a lot for it to become an issue. A few pieces of chocolate each day or a brownie or piece of chocolate cake isn’t likely to be a problem.
Still, chocolate contains caffeine, and this can build up in the body to cause problems throughout the day. If you eat some chocolate and drink caffeinated beverages, as well, you may have too much caffeine in the milk supply. It might be best to cut back on other caffeine sources if you plan to have chocolate.
While dark chocolate may be heart-healthy, it’s one of the worst options while breastfeeding. It has more cocoa solids than others, so you could have more negative effects. Still, you can have it sparingly if you prefer it over white or milk chocolate. Keep in mind that white chocolate has no cocoa solids at all, so you can eat it without worry (though it does still feature caffeine).
What Ingredients Are Bad for the Baby?
We have established that you can eat chocolate in moderation, but why is it considered a no-no in large amounts? It primarily has to do with certain ingredients in the chocolate.
- Theobromine. When you think about caffeine in chocolate, this is what it actually refers to, though the terms are used interchangeably. It’s a stimulant found in chocolate and causes the same side effects that caffeine does. You’d have to eat about 50 ounces of chocolate to get too much for the baby, though.
- Caffeine. Some chocolate brands also contain caffeine and theobromine. The presence of both ingredients can be overwhelming to your baby. Make sure you read the ingredient labels of candy bars and other chocolate treats.
- Sugar. While there is tons of sugar in chocolate, and it could make you hyper, it isn’t necessarily bad for the baby.
- Dairy. Some babies are sensitive to dairy, so the chocolate you eat could affect them. However, a small amount of chocolate might not be enough to activate an allergic reaction. Just watch your baby carefully after eating chocolate and nursing.
Effects of Chocolate on Your Baby
While all babies are different, there are three primary effects that chocolate could have on your baby. This doesn’t mean your little one is going to suffer from all three or any. If you do notice any of these signs after eating chocolate, you may not want to eat it until you wean the baby from the breast.
1. Your baby is overly fussy.
If you do eat a lot of chocolate and then immediately nurse your baby, you might notice that he or she gets quite fussy. This is likely caused by the theobromine and caffeine in your milk because you ate a lot of chocolate. When you notice this, mark it on the calendar. That way, if it happens again, you can assume it’s from the chocolate and may want to avoid eating it for the duration that you nurse.
2. Your baby experiences vomiting or diarrhea.
Your baby could be one who is highly sensitive to the chocolate in your breastmilk. If this happens, he or she is likely to experience vomiting, diarrhea, excess gas, or all three. This is highly uncomfortable for your little one and stressful for you to deal with. Therefore, it’s best to avoid chocolate in this case.
3. Your baby doesn’t sleep well.
While infants rarely sleep through the night, they have a pattern. If you find they change habits, you may want to avoid eating chocolate before your nighttime breastfeeding session.
Now that you know if and when it is safe to eat chocolate while breastfeeding, you can decide for yourself if that treat is going to be a problem for your baby or you. Proceed with caution and talk to your doctor or pediatrician. If you learned something here and liked what you read, please fill out our contact form.