It’s exciting when your baby makes the leap from breast milk and formula to solids, and one of those exciting new foods is yogurt.
If you’re wondering if your baby can have yogurt, most experts agree that 6 months is a good age to begin eating the creamy and yummy concoction. This is a good age because it’s around this same time that most babies are starting to eat solid food, says Barry Sears, Ph.D., a biochemist, research scientist, and author of “Toxic Fat: When Good Fat Turns Bad.”
Once you decide to feed your baby yogurt, other questions will arise such as the best recipes to try, and if Greek yogurt is a wise choice. Possible allergic reactions are something to consider as well.
Why Yogurt Is Good for Babies
Sears recommends that babies 6 months and older eat organic and natural yogurt because it’s the most nutritional and beneficial variety. Yogurt also makes tummies — big and small — happy.
There are three main benefits to yogurt, Sears says. The first is the reduction of lactose. Babies still retain the enzyme to break down lactose so that’s not as important as it is for adults with lactose intolerance.
The second is the presence of probiotics. Much of these will not colonize the intestines so in that way, yogurt fine tunes the immune system that lines the intestines and helps little bodies begin to recognize friendly versus harmful bacteria.
The third is that yogurt is a quick, easy to find, and convenient source of protein.
The Greek Yogurt Conundrum
Greek yogurt is all the rage. It’s high in protein and contains less sugar than traditional flavored yogurts. A lot of parents also turn to frozen or refrigerated Greek yogurt as a teething solution because it’s easy to eat, soothing, and contains the nutrients babies need when teething pain and tummy troubles decrease their appetites.
As an added bonus, Greek yogurt is strained more than regular, store-bought yogurt, says cookbook author Leena Saini. This means that the protein that causes allergic reactions (whey) and the lactose levels are lower in Greek yogurt, making it easier to digest.
If you do choose to go with Greek yogurt, opt for plain. Greek yogurt with fruit or artificial sweetener and flavoring can be too high in sugar and can cause unhealthy weight gain. It’s also best not to add ingredients like honey until the baby is older than 12 months, to avoid botulism poisoning.
That said, there are those pediatricians and nutritionists who caution against Greek yogurt and yogurt in general because of milk allergies and lactose intolerance, Sears says. So if you’re worried, check with your doctor first.
Allergic reactions to yogurt occur when babies have milk allergies or are lactose intolerant, if the yogurt is made with cow’s milk, Sears says.
Some telltale signs are:
- a rash around the mouth
If any of these signs occurs, stop feeding your baby yogurt and contact a physician.
Even with milder symptoms, as is the case with most new foods introduced into a baby’s diet, it’s always best to wait three days after the initial feeding to look for signs of an allergic reaction.
Yogurt Recipes and Preparation
Saini, who authored the book "Masala Baby: Global Cuisine for Tiny Taste Buds," encourages moms to feed babies yogurt because it’s served to babies all over the world.
Yogurt can be served in baby oatmeal and rice cereal (instead of mixing in milk as the box usually directs you to do), or added to simple mashed fruits or homemade applesauce for a protein and calcium boost. In India, babies and children commonly drink lassi, a yogurt drink mixed with fruit and spices such as cardamom or rosewater, says Saini.
Karin Knight and Tina Ruggiero, authors of the book “The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet,” recommend yogurt for babies because it’s high in protein and contains calcium, potassium, vitamin B-12, and magnesium. Knight is a registered nurse and Ruggiero is a registered dietician.
Banana Yogurt Pudding Recipe
One recipe the pair suggests is “Yummy in My Tummy Banana Yogurt Puddin’” which consists of 2 to 4 tablespoons of bananas sautéed in a frying pan with 1 teaspoon of butter that is added to 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt. The mixture is blended and then chilled and served.
Black Bean Avocado Yogurt Recipe
Another dish to consider once a baby is 11 months old or older is black beans with avocado and yogurt. The recipe consists of 1/4 cup of black beans, 1/4 avocado, 1/4 cup of plain yogurt, and 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil. All of the ingredients are combined and pureed in a blender or food processor and served.
Once the baby is 1 year old and older, a nice cool treat is frozen plain or frozen plain Greek yogurt blended or topped with fresh fruit such as bananas, strawberries, and blueberries, and served in a waffle cone or waffle bowl.