Here's everything you need to know about serving cheese to your baby, including the best varieties, when and how to introduce safely, as well as plenty of easy meal ideas and recipes.
When can Babies Eat Cheese?
Cheese can be offered to your baby as soon as they're ready to start solids, around 6 months. But not all of them are suitable. Look for one that is low in sodium, pasteurized, and made with whole milk.
It is also important to serve them appropriately as cheese is a common choking hazard.
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Cheese, when consumed in moderation, is a wonderful source of many nutrients, including:
- Protein and fat - provides energy and supports optimal growth and brain development
- Calcium, vitamin D - supports bone health, muscle function, and immune health
- Vitamin B12 - important for nervous system development and healthy blood cell
Frequently Asked Questions
Technically yes, BUT it is best to invite other foods into your baby's diet. It is also filling due to its high protein and fat content likely leaving little room for your baby to try other foods.
Too much dairy can also lead to iron-deficiency anemia as calcium can inhibit iron absorption. Again, this is not to say you shouldn't serve cheese but a reminder to always practice moderation.
Here are the best iron rich foods for babies that you do want to focus on serving early and often.
It can if your baby consumes more than the recommended amount of 1-2 ounces of cheese per day. That's because cheese contains little fiber while being high in fat.
Keep in mind though that constipation in babies can be caused by a variety of factors, including a lack of fluids, not getting enough fiber, and changes in diet or routine.
Salt is used to help control moisture, prevent bacteria growth, and for flavor. The amount of salt used really depends on the variety and the cheesemaker's preference so be sure to always check the labels.
This is a great option if your baby is allergic to dairy or your family follows a plant-based diet. Just be sure to look at the ingredient list closely to make sure there aren't too many preservaties and salt.
Yes, it can be if cut into small cubes or thick slices. Cheese strings also should be avoided due to its cylindrical shape. All of these shapes increase the chances of the cheese getting lodged in your baby's airway.
You also need to avoid thick melted cheese. Just like thick globs of peanut butter, it can get stuck in your baby's airway.
You don't! Although organic cheese does contain more healthy fats, it is more expensive. If it's in your budget, sure! But whether organic or non-organic, cheese is a nutritious and delicious food to introduce to your baby.
The official serving size recommendation for dairy is 2-3 servings per day. One serving equals ½ ounce of cheese, so your toddler can have up to 1.5 ounces of cheese a day.
However, it's important to continue exposing your child to a variety of foods. So try to invite other foods into the rotation.
Best Cheese for Babies
Again, the three main criteria are when selecting the best cheese for your baby are: low in sodium (aim for less than 100 mg per serving), pasteurized (higher risk of foodborne illness), and made with whole milk (fat is crucial for optimal brain development).
Cheese with the lowest amount of sodium are:
- Swiss cheese
- Creme fraiche
- Farmer's cheese
- Goat Cheese
- Fresh mozzarella (avoid low-moisture mozzarella)
Now this doesn't mean you should totally avoid cheeses that are higher in sodium, like cheddar cheese or parmesan, especially if it's one that your family enjoys.
For instance, I love to add cheddar cheese to so many of our family dinners. And while you can set aside a portion for your baby and add the cheese at the end for the rest of the family, I just add it knowing that the quantity added is for the whole dish and my baby will only eat a small amount at a time.
Best Cheese for Toddlers
The options listed above are still great at this age along with higher sodium cheese in moderation. These include cheddar cheese, gouda, feta, cottage cheese, cream cheese, and parmesan.
I recommend opting for full-fat cheese, but you can select other types after 2 years of age.
How to Serve Cheese to Babies
Soft, spreadable cheeses
- serve as is with a spoon (this baby spoon is a must-have!)
- spread onto toast
- combine with oatmeal, lentils, baby cereal
- mix with seeds or ground nuts
- stir in peanut butter
- Toss with pasta
- spread onto broccoli, carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes
For guidance on specific foods, check out my how to series for babies.
Add to baked goods or baby and toddler friendly dinners.
In addition to the above options,
- Thinly sliced
- Shredded and offer as a finger food now that they are able to pick up smaller pieces of food with their pincer grasp
- Soft crumbles
How to serve Cheese to toddlers
- Thin slices or bite-sized pieces but not cubed
- Thin strands of cheese sticks or string cheese (whole string cheese or round cuts are choking hazards)
Baby Food Recipes with Cheese
You can easily swap the cheese to suit your needs and preferences.
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