With so many choices in the yogurt aisle, finding the best yogurt for your baby may seem like an impossible task. I’d love to simplify the process by guiding you through what to look for as well as answering the top questions when it comes to introducing yogurt to your baby.
When to Give Babies Yogurt?
You can offer yogurt as soon as your baby starts solids, usually around 6 months. Be sure to pay close attention to the developmental signs of readiness, not just age. Your baby may be ready before 6 months but do NOT introduce solid food before 4 months.
The texture of yogurt is great for babies regardless of which feeding method you chose – baby led weaning or purees. What I especially love is its versatility. It can be enjoyed with both savory and sweet toppings or added as an ingredient to so many dishes to boost nutrition and flavor!
Keep in mind dairy is one of the top potential allergens so start with a small amount and closely watch how your baby reacts. There’s no benefit to delaying the introduction. Contrarily, the current recommendation is to introduce potentially allergenic foods early and often.
You can find more in-depth information on my eggs for babies post.
What are the benefits?
Yogurt is a great source of healthy fat, which is so essential during this stage of rapid brain development. In fact, babies should get about half of their calories from fat, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
It’s also an easy way to incorporate probiotics into your baby’s diet, which is important for digestive health and strengthening the immune system. Not to mention, the active live cultures in yogurt help break down the lactose and protein making it easier for their tiny tummies to digest compared to other dairy products.
Why is yogurt ok but not milk?
Milk is not recommended before one because you don’t want it to replace formula/breastmilk. There’s no need to offer any other liquids besides breastmilk/formula and a few sips of water with solid foods. It’s also harder to digest than yogurt and cheese. You can, however, cook with milk. You just don’t want to offer it as a drink.
Here’s an in-depth post on which milk is best to offer when you and your baby are ready to wean from breastmilk/formula.
What is the best yogurt for babies?
With SO many brands, styles, and flavors to choose from, picking the most nutritious and appropriate yogurt for your baby can be confusing. But it’s quite simple.
Look for plain, pasteurized, whole fat yogurt with “live and active cultures.”
Baby yogurt vs. regular yogurt
There’s no need to purchase baby yogurts. It’s just a marketing scheme to get you to spend more money. Many of these yogurts also contain extra sugar. When in doubt, look at the ingredient list.
Again, stick to plain yogurt. Your baby may not take to it at first but keep offering! Take advantage of this window of opportunity when babies are most willing to try and accept new flavors. If possible, the recommendation is to avoid added sugar until 2 years of age.
Note that yogurt and all dairy products contain naturally occurring sugars (lactose), which you don’t need to worry about.
Regular vs. Greek yogurt
They are both fermented dairy products made with the same ingredients – fresh milk plus starter cultures (live bacteria). In both, bacterial cultures help break down lactose, so they’re an easier dairy food to digest for those who are lactose intolerant.
The differences lie in the fact that Greek yogurt is made by straining the whey (milk protein). Whey contains most of the sodium and calcium so that’s why Greek yogurt contains less than the plain. It’s also easier to digest bc it contains less whey and lactose. It’s also thicker making it easier for babies to scoop w/ their hands. It will also stick to the spoon better.
So which one’s better? Both are great! Mix it up and enjoy both! Again, variety is the name of the game.
One of the most common questions I receive is:
Greek yogurt has more protein. Doesn’t that make it better?
Many moms are concerned about their child’s protein intake. Rest assured, breastmilk/formula will provide adequate amounts of protein during the first year. There’s no need to supplement or focus on offering protein-rich foods. Here are the nutrients you DO want to prioritize.
For toddlers, you may be surprised to find that the recommended intake is not very high.
Plant based alternatives
Be sure to look at the ingredient list! Oftentimes these yogurts contain lots of ingredients. Shorter the better.
Choose ones that are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, don’t contain added sugars, and have some protein. Fortified soy-based yogurt has the closest nutrition profile to dairy-based yogurt.
You can read more about whether or not soy is safe for young children in my post where I discuss which milk is best for toddlers.
How to Serve yogurt?
SOO many possibilities!!
- Serve in a bowl and let your baby explore. It will be extremely messy but such an important part of learning to self-feed. Let them use their hands and/or preload onto a spoon. I absolutely LOVE using the gootensil for this! (aff link).
- Enjoy with various toppings – fruits, soft-cooked vegetables, finely chopped/ground nuts and seeds (e.g. flax, chia, hemp), spices
- Add to baked goods. Makes them so moist and flavorful! Check out my super easy, nutritious blender muffins! (pictured: spinach sweet potato muffins)
- Add to smoothies. Adds a lovely depth and creaminess (pictured: beet strawberry from my “Veggie Centered Delights” ecookbook
- Marinate meat in it! The active bacteria in yogurt helps break down the meat making it tender! (try this Southwestern Yogurt Baked Chicken)
- Add to overnight oats/quinoa
- Add to creamy dips/sauces and toss with pasta, whole grains, vegetables, etc. (pictured: red pepper yogurt dip also from my “Veggie-Centered Delights” ecookbook).
Dips can be offered as early as 6 months. Here are some various ways you can serve dips to babies.
Does your child like dips?
More specifically, veggie-loaded yogurt dips?! I know one of the biggest struggles moms have is offering a variety of foods, especially vegetables, to their children day in and day out.
That is why I created my FREE 5 day email series. I’ll walk you through how to batch cook and use them in new, creative, and exciting ways so your family’s not stuck eating the same things over and over again.
One of the ways to repurpose veggies is to add them to dips. In my “Veggie-Centered Delights” ecookbook, you’ll find a formula that includes serving sizes/quantities for individual components to make ANY yogurt dip. All the examples you see above are made using this SAME formula. Would you believe there’s at least 1 cup of veggies in each one?
If you’re struggling to add variety to your child’s diet, especially veggies, this book is for you! There are also 4 other formulas to help you to become more resourceful and whip up something delicious with whatever you have on hand RIGHT NOW rather than being married to recipes!
Now tell me! What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy yogurt with your little one?