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 as young as six to 12 months old who are starting solids. This differs from the recommendation to avoid giving cow's milk until a child is a year old, which is still the guideline; babies under one need the nutrition in breast milk or formula.

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 sometimes eat yogurt (especially full-fat and Greek 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 six and eight months, but your pediatrician's advice for your child may vary. Be mindful about the type of yogurt you're buying for your toddler; full-fat versions are recommended.

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, so choose full-fat yogurt to feed your baby.

The fewer ingredients the better—just milk and live and active cultures is best. Avoid yogurts with added sugars, and don't add your own sugar.

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. Toddlers (ages 12-24 months) need two or three servings of dairy a day, which is equivalent to 1/2 cup of milk, 1/2 oz cheese, and 1/3 cup of yogurt. As your child begins to drink milk rather than formula or breast milk (after age one), 1/2 cup of yogurt can comprise one of their daily servings of dairy. Toddlers need about 700 mg of calcium a day; yogurt has about 450 mg per cup, while whole milk has about 300 mg per cup.

Allergic Reactions

If you are concerned about starting yogurt due to a potential allergic reaction, start with a small amount and monitor for 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. If you are very concerned about adding a new food to your child's diet, discuss it with your pediatrician first.

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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