Many new parents have trouble finding healthy options when a baby starts to eat solid food. One go-to is yogurt because it is not only affordable and easy to find pretty much anywhere—there are many benefits of yogurt for babies. But if you're curious about when babies can have yogurt, we have everything you need to know. You want to avoid giving your baby yogurt too early—or worse, feeding them the wrong type of yogurt.
Along with pureed fruits and veggies, yogurt is one of the first foods that babies can enjoy. “Babies can eat yogurt as soon as they start eating solid food, which is generally at about four to six months of age,” says Dr. Whitney Casares, MD, MPH, FAAP.
Yogurt is also an incredibly healthy choice for them, explains the doctor. “Yogurt is a great source of calcium, fat, and protein. It can be incorporated into an overall feeding plan that includes a diverse array of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein- and iron-rich options, and healthy fats.”
However, you cannot give babies just any type of yogurt. For example, that honey or chocolate yogurt you regularly enjoy for breakfast or as an afternoon snack is very likely a “no” for your baby. So how do you know what to buy? Dr. Casares says, “Babies can have yogurts specifically marketed towards little ones, but feeding them adult full-fat yogurts is also safe.”
Still, it’s crucial to read the label. The doctor advises staying away from any yogurts with artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, erythritol, or other artificial ingredients because they are not always safe for babies. Anything labeled diet is also unsafe for young children.
Some yogurts are safe for some babies but not others. For example, if your baby suffers from lactose intolerance or has issues with dairy products in general—they should not try cow’s milk yogurt. Fortunately, there are lots of yogurts made with other ingredients including goat's milk and soy milk. You may just need to experiment to find what brand and flavor they like best.
According to Chanel Kenner RD, going with low or no-sugar-added yogurt is ideal. “There are some great baby options in the market by Stonyfield, GoGo squeezes, and Horizon Organic.” Greek yogurt is another type of yogurt to consider, especially if it's already something that parents enjoy and keep stocked in the refrigerator.
Babies can typically start having flavored yogurt after they've been introduced to plain, full-fat yogurt and have successfully incorporated it into their diet. “Plain yogurt is usually introduced to babies around six months old, or when they start to explore solid foods,” says Kenner. “It's a good idea to begin with plain yogurt to allow your baby to become accustomed to the taste and texture of yogurt and to monitor for any potential allergies, such as milk allergies or sensitivities.”
Added sugar is not good for babies so Kenner implores parents to read the label on the package to check sugar content. “Some flavored yogurts can contain a significant amount of added sugars, which is not ideal for babies.”
She also tells me it's crucial to make sure the texture is appropriate for your child’s developmental stage because many flavored yogurts contain fruit chunks or other textures. So, you may ultimately end up serving your baby a variety of different yogurts in their first 12 months.
Lastly, infants must avoid yogurt with nuts because nuts are choking hazards for babies.
No, you shouldn’t add sugar or any type of artificial sweetener to a baby’s yogurt. “Babies should never have extra salt or sugar added to their foods. They're unnecessary and can be harmful to a young person's system to have an excess of either of these,” says Dr. Casares.
Yes, you can make your own flavored yogurts. All you need to do is puree a batch of your baby’s favorite fruit like blueberry or strawberry and then mix it into plain yogurt. However, it’s important to be aware of your baby’s food allergies and not add anything that could potentially trigger them. So keep this in mind as you prepare yogurt for babies, especially if they are trying this delicious food for the first time.
Kenner tells me it's important to introduce yogurt in an appropriate way and consider your child's readiness for solids. “Here are some key things to consider: age and readiness, texture, allergies, portion size (start small), feeding method (standalone or mixed with other single-ingredient purees).” Lastly, she recommends monitoring your baby for allergic reactions.
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