Yogurt can be a great addition to your baby’s menu. A good source of protein, fat, calcium, magnesium and beneficial bacteria, it is full of nutritional goodness and is loved by kids of all ages. But which variety to choose?
Any supermarket will meet you with rows and rows of different tubs, jars and even tubes, some marketed to parents of children, some not. So which yogurt is the best for your baby?
In this post, you will find a recap of my answers to the most common questions about yogurt I am getting from you. I hope they will help you in case you are looking for solutions to your yogurt dilemmas.
But first, let’s talk about…
When you can start giving yogurt to your baby
Babies can start eating dairy foods from the moment the solids are started. Dairy is one of the potential allergens but there is no evidence that delaying it can help prevent food allergies in the future.
But it is usually not the first food that is recommended to babies because it is low in iron. Babies need a variety of iron-rich foods in their diet in order to meet their nutritional needs, especially if they are breastfed.
But as soon as they got a few solids in their meal rotation, feel free to introduce yogurt and other dairy products like cheese, kefir and cow’s milk in cereals and baked good.
Cow’s or goat’s milk as the main drink is not recommended to babies under 1. Babies need to be drinking breastmilk or formula so they can get the nutrition they need.
So do not be afraid to give your baby a little bit of yogurt, shredded cheese or a smoothie with kefir, but keep breastmilk or formula as their main drink for now.
1/ Full fat or Reduced Fat yogurt?
Full fat is better. Children under two need a lot of fat in their diets, including saturated, or animal fat. In fact, half of the calories in breast milk come from fat, most of which is saturated.
Fat is an important source of energy and is also vital for brain development. Dairy products are a fantastic source of fat for babies and young toddlers.
Of course, it is ok if a baby eats some low-fat yogurt from time to time, but if it is a daily snack, it is best to choose full fat.
2/ Plain or Flavored yogurt?
Plain is better. Most babies are very open to new flavors in the first year of their lives and are willing to try pretty much everything. So let’s make the most out of it. I would definitely try serving only plain yogurt to your baby and toddler for as long as possible and enjoy the baby developing a taste for the tangy flavor.
Believe me, our babies will discover sweetened yogurts soon enough and it will not be a fair competition for the plain variety!
If your baby is already eating flavored yogurts, try making a homemade alternative by adding some fruit puree to plain yogurt.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding added sugar in kids’ diet until they 2. Most flavored yogurts on grocery store shelves contain added sugar, or sucrose.
Yogurt, just like any other dairy product, also contains dairy sugar, lactose. There is no need to limit its amount, it is a naturally occurring type of sugar, so don’t worry about it.
How to figure out how much added sugar a yogurt contains?
This is easy now, with the recent changes on the US food label. All added sugar, i.e. non-naturally occurring sugars, are labeled as such.
In the UK and many European countries, we need to look at the ingredient list at the back of the packaging to make sure their no added sugar.
If you have a couple of hours and would like to get all the steps of starting solids with your baby in a safe and nutritious way, check my Stress Free Solids program – it’s completely online, straight-to-the-point and has videos of babies eating both finger foods and purees, in addition to recipes, schedules, nutritional guides and the latest scientific advice on introducing allergens.
3/ Greek or Regular yogurt?
Either is fine. Greek yogurt is made by straining regular yogurt. As a result, it is more concentrated, with more protein, and slightly less naturally occurring sodium.
Typical Greek yogurt provides about 15-20 grams of protein in a 6 oz serving versus about 9 grams in regular yogurt.
If you are wondering whether you need to boost your baby’s protein intake, it helps to know that most of his protein needs are met by breast milk and formula until he is 1 and after that, a big portion of protein will be coming from milk.
So although protein seems to be hitting headlines more and more often lately, it is not likely that your baby is not getting enough.
But if you have a picky toddler on your hands who is not eating lots of protein-rich foods, it makes sense to switch to Greek yogurt.
4/ Should l be considering sodium content of yogurts?
Not really. Yogurt has a very small amount of naturally occurring sodium but it is not a lot, so there is no need to look for a low sodium alternative.
Greek yogurts have slightly less sodium because it gets removed together with whey, the liquid that remains after the yogurt is strained.
5/ Bio vs Regular Yogurt
Bio if possible. While all yogurts contain active friendly bacteria, the bio variety has been boosted by additional resilient strains that have better chances of surviving the acidic stomach environment.
Whenever I see a plain full-fat variety of bio yogurt in a store, I make sure to stock! Believe me, it is no so easy to find one.
6/ Yogurt or kefir?
Kefir is a fermented milk drink, similar to drinking style yogurt, but more tart. Nutritionally it is also very much like yogurt, except it is a more potent source of beneficial bacteria and also yeast.
If your store does not carry kefir, try making your own by using kefir grains.
The best yogurt for your baby is plain full fat Greek or regular yogurt. If you find the bio variety with additional strains of bacteria, it will benefit your baby’s digestive system even more.
How to serve yogurt to your baby?
- If you are giving your baby purees, try mixing in some yogurt so boost nutrition and create a twist on the flavor.
- Sprinkle some cinnamon or cumin to expand your baby’s palate and boost variety.
- Use yogurt as a dip for finger foods.
- Serve with fruit puree.
- Mix some yogurt with mashed avocado or baked and mashed sweet potato or carrots.
- Use in smoothies.
- Do not be afraid to let your baby self feed yogurt with fingers. It is a sensory activity and a boost in self feeding skills in one bowl!
Since I have readers from all over the world, do you mind sharing which whole fat plain yogurt brand you find in your store? I think many local parents who also read my blog will find this very helpful. Thanks a lot!
Need a step-by-step guide on how to start solids with your baby in a safe and stress-free way? Check out my online program Stress-Free Solids, complete with the schedules, meal plans, recipes, instructional videos, and nutritional guides.
More articles on starting solids:
Starting solids the easy, safe and stress-free way!
Let me show you how to feed your baby using the mixed approach, so you can be guided by your baby and not by a rigid philosophy.