When Can My Baby Have Yogurt?

Mom feeding her baby yogurt

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When your baby starts solids, you may find yourself overwhelmed by information on what they can and cannot eat. Yogurt may seem like the perfect choice until your friends and family point out that dairy is on the no-list. But actually, some types of dairy are OK for babies.

It is important to introduce some healthy fats into their developing palate. Full-fat foods play an important role in brain development, along with helping your baby absorb vital nutrients and aiding in hormone production.

But not all fats are safe for babies under age one. Cow's milk, for example, is not recommended. Milk may impede iron absorption and it is difficult for babies to digest, among other issues. This does not apply to everything made of cow's milk, however. Yogurt is a good food choice for babies, as long as you go with a full-fat, unsweetened variety.

Is Yogurt Safe for My Baby?

Yogurt is a safe and healthy choice for babies who are starting solids. When your baby reaches 6 months and begins eating solid foods, you can safely give them full-fat yogurt that is not flavored or sweetened. For added benefits, choose a yogurt that contains live cultures.

Benefits of Giving Baby Yogurt

Yogurt has many benefits for your developing child. Here are some of the top ones.

Brain Development

Whole fat yogurt is a healthy fat, which is essential for your baby's brain development. Fat also gives little ones the energy they need to move, play, and grow. We may often think of fat as a bad thing, but actually, it's important not to limit how much unsaturated fat children under age two consume.

"Fat is essential for proper development of the brain and central nervous system," notes Kacie Barnes, MCN, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Dallas, Texas, and the creator of Mama Knows Nutrition. "I encourage families to move beyond baby cereals and plain fruits and veggies and incorporate fat-containing foods like whole milk yogurt because it's so beneficial for babies."

Key Nutrients

Yogurt contains many key nutrients that babies need in their diets, such as calcium and vitamin D. For healthy development, your baby needs about 260 mg of calcium daily when they reach 6 months of age. Yogurt may be a tasty way for them to get enough.

Vitamin D is essential for bone development and it is difficult to get enough vitamin D from diet alone. Any way you can boost your child's intake of vitamin D is beneficial.

Probiotics

The best yogurt to buy contains probiotics. Check the label for the words "Contains Live Cultures" to get this important benefit from yogurt.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that aid in digestion. When babies eat foods with probiotics in them, it helps to prevent diarrhea, which can cause problems like dehydration and malnutrition. Probiotics have even been shown to prevent or reduce colic in infants.

Safety Precautions

Babies can eat yogurt, but there are some kinds of yogurt that are not best for them. Keep these tips in mind when choosing a type of yogurt for your infant.

Full Fat Only

During the first two years of life, it is important to offer full-fat options, as fat is essential for brain development. Choose yogurts that are labeled whole fat.

No Added Flavors or Sugar

Many types of yogurt at the grocery store have added sugar or extra flavorings. Skip the sugar and buy plain, unsweetened yogurt. Children under two are advised to avoid added sugar.

If you want to make the yogurt a little tastier, add pureed fruit to it, or mix it up with iron-fortified unsweetened oatmeal.

Serve a Limited Amount

Like all foods, too much yogurt may not be a good thing. Dairy has been found to inhibit iron absorption. This concern is more about cow's milk in liquid form, but it is still a good idea to make sure you are not serving exclusively yogurt to your child.

"While high intakes of dairy can be associated with iron deficiency anemia, as long as you are actively providing iron-containing foods as well, having yogurt in the diet isn't usually a problem," notes Krystyn Parks, a pediatric registered dietitian and the creator of Feeding Made Easy.

Watch Out For Signs of an Allergy

Dairy is a top-nine allergen, so watch for signs of allergic reaction when you introduce yogurt, especially if you have not given your baby formula or any other forms of dairy previously.

Introduce new foods, especially common allergens like dairy, one at a time, so that you can isolate the cause of any potential reaction. Wait three to five days to judge whether your baby could have a sensitivity. Watch closely for any signs of dairy allergy after introducing yogurt.

It is also recommended to start with foods that are not common allergens, so yogurt is a good choice for one of baby's first foods, but should not be the very first food.

When and How to Introduce Yogurt

Introduce yogurt when your baby has already started solids. Babies are ready for solids when they meet certain developmental milestones such as holding their head up unassisted, they've lost their tongue thrust reflex, they've developed a pincher grasp, and they show interest and curiosity about food. This usually happens around 6 months of age. "Yogurt is a pureed consistency and is usually tolerated well," notes Parks.

Choose a full-fat variety with no added sugar. You can spoon-feed your baby yogurt at the start. As your baby grows, you may want to offer a preloaded spoon for them to start to feed themselves. If you are taking an approach like baby-led weaning, where babies feed themselves from the get-go, try spreading yogurt on toast strips or letting baby dip soft biscuits into yogurt.

You can mix baby-friendly options like mashed banana into the yogurt if you want. "Mixing in some pureed fruit or veggies, or adding some cinnamon is a good way to add flavors or other nutrients," notes Barnes.

What Amount of Yogurt Should I Give My Baby?

Babies starting solids need to experiment with new flavors. During the first year of life, you should focus on offering your infant a variety of flavors and textures. Doing so should ensure that they get a reasonable amount of anything you offer. If your baby loves yogurt, you can give it every day, but make sure you offer other foods throughout the rest of the day.

"I recommend letting your baby be in charge of how much they eat of a food, but I would limit how often you serve it," suggests Parks.

During the second year of life, you should aim for about 16 to 24 ounces of healthy fats per day. Yogurt can make up a part of this total. Avoid exceeding that much in dairy products to make sure iron can be absorbed well, and so that you can expose your baby to a variety of foods.

Amount of Yogurt to Give Your Baby, Based on Age
6 to 12 months a limited amount
1 to 2 years within 16-24 ounces of dairy per day
2 to 3 years within 2.5 servings of dairy per day

A Word From Verywell

Yogurt is safe and healthy for your baby. Just make sure to stick with a full fat, sugar-free option during the first two years of life. Offer yogurt when your baby has already tried a few foods that do not commonly cause allergies and avoid introducing anything else new until you see that your baby tolerates yogurt well over three to five days.

Reach out to your baby's healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about feeding your baby yogurt.

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15 Sources
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