When Can My Toddler Have Yogurt?

Toddler boy eating yogurt, portrait

  PhotoAlto / Sandro Di Carlo Darsa / Getty Images

If you would like to give your toddler yogurt, the good news is that it's usually a safe choice for children before toddlerhood, as young as six to 12 months who are starting solids. This differs from the recommendation to avoid giving cow's milk until a child is a year old. Read on to learn what makes yogurt different.

How Yogurt Is Different From Milk

Yogurt is not just thickened, sweetened milk; rather, it is a fermented milk product. Even those who are lactose intolerant can eat yogurt because the lactose is converted to lactic acid as the yogurt is made. Additionally, milk proteins are broken down and made easier to digest during the fermentation process. Yogurt can usually be introduced between the ages of nine and 10 months, but you should be mindful about the type of yogurt you're buying for your toddler.

All Yogurt Is Not Equal

Yogurt can be a very healthy addition to your toddler's diet but it can be more of a junk food if you're not careful. Some brands contain artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and thickeners. Low-fat and fat-free yogurts products are especially likely to have these additives to make them thicker and add more flavor when they have less fat.

Young children need all the fat dairy can offer. But full-fat yogurt can be harder to find, especially without lots of added ingredients.

The fewer ingredients the better—just milk and live and active cultures is best—but if there is a small amount of sugar or pectin in addition to fruit, this is still better than yogurt with a lot of artificial ingredients.

Toddler Serving Size and Serving Ideas

One great way to add a little sweetness and additional nutrients is with whole fruits. You can buy plain, full-fat yogurt and add your toddler's favorite fruit to it. If you use a food mill or have a blender, you can puree a bit of fruit (like mango or blueberries) and add the yogurt to make a smoothie. You can also try making your own yogurt at home. It's inexpensive, pretty easy, and you'll know for sure that what's going in there is acceptable for your toddler.

The serving size for a child age eight to 12 months is 1/4 to 1/2 cup of yogurt. As your child begins to drink milk rather than formula or breastmilk around 12 months through 24 months, 1/2 cup of yogurt can comprise one or more of the six servings of milk recommended per day.

Allergic Reactions

If you've gotten the go-ahead to start on milk and your child has been drinking a cow's milk formula, then you probably already know that your child doesn't have a milk allergy. Still, milk is not the only ingredient in yogurt that could lead to an adverse reaction. If your child has been exclusively breastfed or you have been using a formula made with something other than cow's milk, you should watch for the signs of an allergic reaction. Those signs can include:

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing or asthma symptoms
  • Swelling of the mouth or throat
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of consciousness

Know how to respond if your child is showing any of these symptoms and be ready to call 911 immediately.

A Word From Verywell

Once your toddler has transitioned to solid foods, yogurt can be a wise choice for a healthy breakfast or snack. Just be mindful of added ingredients and keep a close watch for potential allergy symptoms. As always, bring up any potential concerns with your child's doctor.

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