When Can Babies Have Coquito?

a small round glass with thin gold stripes filled with a white liquid, dusted with a brown spice, with a cinnamon stick laid on top of the glass

Coquito and many other popular milk punches around the world are a delicious part of celebrating the winter holiday season. The holidays are a great time to share memories, food, and traditions with the entire family—including baby. But with its hefty dose of sugar, when is it okay to serve coquito to baby?

Sebastián, 14 months, enjoys a taste of coquito.
Cooper, 19 months, tries coquito.

When can babies have coquito?

After 12 months of age, if the coquito is free of alcohol. While we generally recommend waiting until age 2 to introduce sugar into a toddler’s diet, a small taste of alcohol-free coquito on a special occasion after a baby’s first birthday is just fine. Babies under 12 months of age should not be given coquito, or any drink other than breast/human milk, formula, or small amounts of water. For more on when babies can have cow’s milk, see our Milk FAQs.

What ingredients are in coquito?

Coquito means “little coconut” in Spanish, so it’s no shock that the drink’s main ingredients include coconut cream and coconut milk. Many recipes also contain cow’s milk in the form of evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk, as well as a variety of spices like allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and vanilla. Lastly, some coquito recipes include eggs, known as coquito con huevo or ponche crema.

Can babies have store-bought coquito?

If the baby is 12 months of age or older, and if the coquito is alcohol-free, yes. If you’re serving coquito con huevo, ensure that the beverage is pasteurized. Before purchasing, just look at the ingredients list to make sure both the eggs and milk used are pasteurized and that there are no alcoholic ingredients like brandy, rum, or vodka. Vanilla extract is fine.

Are nutmeg and other spices like cinnamon and cloves safe for babies?

Yes. While you may have heard that nutmeg can be harmful, nutmeg is recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, when used in small amounts for culinary purposes.1 2 When it comes to coquito, the amounts of nutmeg and other spices used are generally small and safe for young children. Just remember that babies under 12 months of age should not have any drink other than breast/human milk, formula, or small amounts of water.

Can babies or toddlers have coquito made with raw milk?

No. Raw milk is not safe for babies or toddlers. Raw milk can contain harmful bacteria and contaminants that can lead to foodborne illness, which can be severe or even fatal.3 Pasteurized milk and milk products, on the other hand, have been heated to high temperatures to kill off unfriendly germs, making the milk or milk product safe for consumption.4 5

Is homemade coquito safe for babies?

Yes. If you’re concerned about sugar, modify the recipe to feature less cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk. Note that “cream of coconut” contains added sugar and is different from products labeled “unsweetened coconut cream,” so pay attention when reading recipes and purchasing ingredients.

If you’re making coquito con huevo, ensure that the eggs are fully cooked. Raw or undercooked eggs pose an increased risk of Salmonella, a common bacterium that can lead to foodborne illness and symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and fever.6 Children under the age of 5 are especially susceptible, since their immune systems are still developing.7 For this reason, avoid coquito con huevo featuring raw eggs.

Important: Keep coquito in the refrigerator

Coquito that has been sitting at room temperature for more than 2 hours (which can happen easily at a family party) is not safe for anyone to consume, due to the possibility of bacterial growth and the heightened risk of foodborne illness.8

Recipe: Homemade Coquito to Share with Toddlers

Yield: 4 cups (1 liter)

Cook Time: 45 minutes + overnight chill

Age: 12 months+

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans (13 ½ ounces each) unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cream of coconut
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cinnamon (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground nutmeg (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon (½ gram) allspice (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon (½ gram) kosher salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick per person (optional) 

This recipe contains common allergens: milk (sweetened condensed milk) and coconut (cream of coconut and coconut milk). Only serve to a child after these foods have been safely introduced. While coconut allergy is rare, it’s classified as a tree nut by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Always check for potential allergens in ingredients listed on the labels of store-bought processed foods, such as coconut milk. Added ingredients may include honey, which should not be given to babies younger than 12 months.

Directions:

  1. Get out a blender or high-powered food processor. If you don’t have one, you can still make coquito using a whisk and lots of arm strength to froth the milks.
  2. Blend the milks until frothy and smooth. Note that this recipe calls for “cream of coconut” which is sweetened coconut cream. Cream of coconut is different from cans labeled “unsweetened coconut cream.” If you would like to make the coquito less sweet, swap the “cream of coconut” for “coconut cream” (the unsweetened kind) or use half of the “cream of coconut” and add more coconut milk.
  3. Add all of the spices except for the cinnamon stick. Spices are optional and customizable. Skip the spices if you like or use whatever spices that you prefer—allspice, cardamom, and clove are all delicious here.
  4. Chill the mixture for at least 1 hour. Coquito lasts for up to 1 month in the refrigerator, so feel free to make this recipe in advance.
  5. When you are ready to serve, pour a small amount (under ¼ cup / 60 milliliters) into a child-friendly open cup for the toddler.
  6. Pour yourself some coquito and if you like, spike it with white rum or your liquor of choice.  
  7. Serve the coquito and if you like, invite the child to garnish the drinks with a cinnamon stick and a pinch of finely ground nutmeg. Show the toddler how to use the cinnamon stick to stir the drink. (Just stay close by to intervene in case the child tries to take a bite of it.) Enjoy your coquito alongside your child to model how it’s done!

To Store: Homemade Coquito to Share with Toddlers keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Reviewed by:

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP

K. Tatiana Maldonado, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS, CLEC

Dr. R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist

  1. CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. (2021). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved December 10, 2021
  2. Dolan, L. C., Matulka, R. A., & Burdock, G. A. (2010). Naturally occurring food toxinsToxins2(9), 2289–2332. DOI: 10.3390/toxins2092289. Retrieved December 10, 2021
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Raw milk questions and answers. Retrieved December 10, 2021
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Raw milk questions and answers. Retrieved December 10, 2021
  5. WHO Working Group (1988). Foodborne listeriosis. WHO Working Group. Bulletin of the World Health Organization66(4), 421–428. Retrieved December 10, 2021
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Salmonella and eggs. Retrieved December 10, 2021
  7. U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2021). People at risk: Children under five. FoodSaftey.gov. Retrieved December 10, 2021
  8. U.S. Department of Agriculture. What is the 2 hour rule with leaving food out? AskUSDA. Retrieved December 13, 2021
Return to Blog