When Can My Toddler Have Yogurt?

Toddler boy eating yogurt, portrait
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If you would like to give your toddler yogurt, the good news is that children as young as 6 to 12 months who are starting solids can begin eating yogurt. This differs from the recommendation to avoid giving cow's milk until 12 months of age. Learn what makes yogurt different.

How Yogurt Is Different From Milk

Yogurt is not just thickened, sweetened milk, but 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 yogurt is made. In addition, milk proteins are broken down and made easier to digest. Most often yogurt can be introduced between the ages of 9 and 10 months, but you should be careful about the type of yogurt you buy.

All Yogurt Is Not Equal

Yogurt can be a very healthy addition to your toddler's diet but it can be more of 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 yogurt may especially have these additives to make them thicker when they have less fat.

In addition, your child needs all the fat dairy can offer right now and full-fat yogurt is sometimes hard 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 better than a lot of artificial ingredients.

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. If you're handy in the kitchen, try making your own yogurt. It's inexpensive, pretty easy, and you know for sure that what's going in there is acceptable for your toddler.

The serving size for a child age 8 to 12 months is 1/4 to 1/2 cup of yogurt. As your child begins to drink milk rather than formula or breastmilk at age 12 through 24 months, 1/2 cup of yogurt can comprise one or more of the six servings of milk she will need 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 your child could possibly react to. Also, children who have been exclusively breastfed or have been using a formula made with something other than cow's milk 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 or diarrhea and loss of consciousness. Know how to respond if your child exhibits any of these symptoms and be ready to call 9-1-1 immediately.

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