At What Age Can Babies Eat Yogurt?

Baby boy sitting in high chair eating yogurt

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Advice can vary on the ideal age at which your baby can eat yogurt. Talk to your pediatrician and find out if she has a suggested timeline for introducing foods, for her patients and for your baby in particular.

When to give babies dairy products can be confusing because yogurt (and cheese) is okay before one year of age, but milk is not.

  • Cow's milk does not match the nutrition that breast milk and/or infant formula provide, such as iron. Doctors do not want parents to replace breast milk or formula with cow's milk (or other milks, such as goat's milk, soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk) until after baby's first year. This could put babies at risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia. 
  • Yogurt is a supplement to the nutrition babies receive from breast milk or formula. As they do when they eat other solid foods, babies should continue to drink enough breast milk or formula to meet their nutritional needs.
  • Yogurt and cheese undergo a culturing process that breaks down the milk proteins. This makes yogurt and cheese easier for babies to digest, while still being a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D.

When to Introduce Yogurt

Many doctors suggest introducing yogurt between 9 and 10 months of age. However, studies indicate that the timing of adding certain solids to a baby's diet is not as important as once believed. In light of that, some pediatricians might recommend introducing selected yogurts as early as 6 months.

If your baby is doing well with solid food, you can introduce yogurt just as you would any other new food (one new food at a time, so you can see how your baby responds).

Do Babies Need Probiotics?

Yogurt contains probiotics—live active cultures. Some parents believe that giving babies probiotics could offer benefits such as an improved immune system or relief from colic. Unfortunately, research doesn't back this up. Plus, many babies get probiotics anyway: Breastmilk contains probiotics and so do some infant formulas.

Choose the Best Yogurt for Babies

At whatever age you choose to start yogurt, be selective about your choice. Serve a whole milk yogurt, because your baby needs the nutritious fat in whole-milk products for proper brain development.

While many yogurts are marketed to babies and kids, not all are as healthy as others. Many of these yogurts add extra sugar. While all yogurt contains naturally occurring sugars, you want to be mindful of how much sugar is added and if the yogurt contains other additives—like fructose syrup, starches and the like.

A good choice is to start with plain, whole milk yogurt. Buy a large tub of plain yogurt to save money over more expensive single-serving packages. You can also save by skipping organic milk and yogurt products. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "There is no evidence of clinically relevant differences in organic and conventional milk."

For extra flavor, stir in a fruit or veggie purée that you know your baby tolerates well. You might try mixing yogurt with:

If you enjoy making your own baby foods, you can make your own baby smoothies, too. Frozen smoothies placed in a mesh baby feeder are a great way to soothe a teething baby's sore gums.

Shelf-Stable Yogurts

These yogurts do not need to be refrigerated, which is nice if you want something you can toss in your diaper bag when you are out on the run. But since these yogurts have been pasteurized, their live cultures have been destroyed. So many of the elements that make yogurt such a healthy option are no longer present in the shelf-stable products.

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