When can babies eat asiago cheese?
Asiago cheese is best introduced after baby’s first birthday due to its sodium levels, though a small sprinkle of pasteurized asiago cheese before then is fine. If you are able to find pasteurized asiago cheese with lower sodium levels (ideally under 100 mg of sodium per serving), you can go ahead and share with baby as early as 6 months of age.
In general, the best cheeses for babies younger than 12 months old are pasteurized and low in sodium, including emmentaler cheese, fresh goat cheese, labneh, mascarpone cheese, fresh mozzarella cheese, paneer, fresh ricotta cheese, and swiss cheese.
Where does asiago cheese come from?
One of Italy’s oldest cheeses, asiago originated in the foothills of the Italian Alps in a town of the same name. That cheese likely tasted quite different from the asiago of today, in part because it used to be made from sheep’s milk. Today, asiago is generally made from cow’s milk and its production is regulated by Protected Designation of Origin, a European law that requires asiago be made from the milk of cows in certain alpine provinces in Italy. Asiago comes in two forms: asiago fresco (fresh asiago) and asiago d’allevo (aged asiago). Made with whole milk, asiago fresco or asiago pressato is aged for under two months. It is much soft and sweeter than the widely available aged asiago, which is made with skimmed milk.
Is asiago cheese healthy for babies?
No. Asiago tends to be high in sodium, which should be limited in infant diets.1 2 That said, a small sprinkle of pasteurized asiago is fine. Asiago cheese can be made from unpasteurized (raw) milk. Generally, unpasteurized cheeses carry a higher risk of foodborne illness, but those aged for more than 60 days—like most asiago—pose a lower risk.3 Read our cheese page for more information and consider the risk in the context of your individual child.
Nutritionally, asiago cheese contains plenty of healthy fats to support cell structure, plus protein to help baby’s body create new cells. Asiago is also rich in calcium to build strong bones, vitamin B12 for brain development and healthy blood, plus selenium and zinc.
Can asiago cheese help baby poop?
No. Aged cheeses like asiago are fermented and naturally contain certain beneficial bacteria, which may have a positive influence on the microbiome, and therefore on digestion, but more research is needed.4 Note that pooping patterns can vary significantly from child to child. Be sure to talk to your pediatric healthcare provider if you have concerns about baby’s pooping and digestive function.
Is asiago cheese a common choking hazard for babies?
Yes, it can be. Cheese is a common choking hazard for babies and children.5 To reduce the risk, slice very thinly or grate the cheese and avoid serving in cubes or large crumbles. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.
Is asiago cheese a common allergen?
Yes. Asiago cheese is made from cow’s milk, and cow’s milk is a common food allergen in young children, accounting for about one-fifth of all childhood food allergies in the United States.6 Keep in mind that some asiago cheese may be made from sheep’s milk and dairy products from other ruminants such as sheep, goat, and buffalo may provoke similar allergic reactions to cow’s milk dairy products.7 That said, there’s good news: milk allergy often disappears with time. Research shows that the majority of children with cow’s milk allergy will outgrow it by age 6 and many babies with milder symptoms of milk protein allergy (which can show up as painless blood in stool) are able to successfully reintroduce cow’s milk as early as their first birthday, with the guidance of their doctors.8 9 Note: Aged cheeses generally contain histamines, which may cause rashes in children who are sensitive to them.10 11
Milk is a known trigger of food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome, also known as FPIES. FPIES is a delayed allergy to food protein which causes the sudden onset of repetitive vomiting and diarrhea to begin a few hours after ingestion. Left untreated, the reaction can result in significant dehydration. Thankfully, like other forms of milk allergy, FPIES which presents early in life is generally outgrown by the time the child has reached 3-5 years of age.12 While the exact rates of FPIES are unknown, it is believed to be an uncommon condition (although better recognition of the disease has led to increased reporting in recent years).13
Although it is not an allergy, lactose intolerance can result in gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea, after ingestion of dairy items containing lactose. For those with older children who are lactose intolerant (keep in mind this is uncommon for infants and toddlers), some good news: compared with milk and certain other dairy products, many cheeses may be better tolerated by those with lactose intolerance, particularly aged cheeses, which have lower lactose content.14 Note that if your child is lactose-intolerant, it’s important to find calcium-rich foods to consume regularly to ensure a balanced diet and support bone health. Search for naturally low-lactose cheeses and dairy products labeled “lactose-free.”
If you suspect baby may be allergic to milk, consult an allergist before introducing dairy products like cheese. Based on baby’s risk factors and history, your allergist may recommend allergy testing, or may instead advise dairy introduction under medical supervision in the office. If the risk is low, you may be advised to go ahead and introduce dairy in the home setting. As with all common allergens, start by serving a small quantity on its own for the first few servings, and if there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
How do you prepare asiago cheese for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience. Your child is an individual and may have needs or considerations beyond generally accepted practices. In determining the recommendations for size and shape of foods, we use the best available scientific information regarding gross, fine, and oral motor development to minimize choking risk. The preparation suggestions we offer are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for child-specific, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional or provider. It is impossible to fully eliminate all risk of a baby or child choking on any liquid, puree, or food. We advise you to follow all safety protocols we suggest to create a safe eating environment and to make educated choices for your child regarding their specific needs. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 12 months old: Avoid due to sodium levels. Unless you have access to pasteurized asiago cheese that has less than 100 mg of sodium per serving (like a pinch of grated asiago), it’s best to avoid asiago until baby’s first birthday. When serving cheese regularly, focus on cheeses that are lower in sodium, such as emmentaler, fresh goat cheese, labneh, mascarpone cheese, fresh mozzarella cheese, paneer, fresh ricotta cheese, and swiss cheese.
12 to 18 months old: Offer thin slices of fresh, pasteurized asiago or grate atop foods as desired. Avoid serving cheese in cube shapes, as these present a high choking risk.
18 months old and up: Continue to serve fresh asiago in thin slices or melted atop other foods. Offer small amounts of grated or finely shredded aged asiago, either on its own or as part of a meal. You can also serve aged asiago in small, bite-sized pieces cut from a thin slice of cheese. Avoid serving cheese in cube shapes, as these present a high choking risk.
Read our Sodium and Babies FAQ page to learn more about how much salt babies should have.
Recipe: Butternut Squash Fingers with Asiago
Yield: 3 c (720 ml)
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Age: 12 months+
Recipe By Solid Starts
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
- ¼ c (60 ml) grated asiago cheese
- 4 sprigs fresh sage (optional)
This recipe contains a common allergen: dairy (asiago cheese). Only serve to a child after this allergen has been safely introduced.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius). Line a sheet tray with parchment paper.
- Cut the squash into fingers: First, place the squash on a cutting board and cut crosswise to separate the bulb from the neck. Next, peel the skin by using your knife or a sturdy vegetable peeler. Slice off the flower and stem ends from the neck, then cut the neck into fingers about the size of an adult pointer finger. Halve the bulb, scoop out the seeds, then cut the halves into half-moon shapes.
- Coat squash fingers in olive oil then evenly space them on the tray.
- Place the tray in the oven and cook the squash for 10 minutes, then remove the tray from the oven and flip the pieces. Return the tray to the oven and roast until a knife easily inserts into the thickest part of a piece of squash, about 10 minutes more. Meanwhile, wash, dry, and finely chop the sage leaves if you’d like to use them.
- Remove the squash from the oven. Immediately sprinkle the asiago cheese and sage over the squash fingers and toss the squash to coat it in the seasonings.
Serve the Squash
- Set aside some squash fingers for your toddler. Serving size varies. Let the child decide how much to eat.
- Let your toddler’s squash fingers cool to room temperature while you keep your portion warm.
- Offer the squash fingers to your toddler and let the child self-feed.
To Store: Butternut Squash Fingers with Asiago keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months.
V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP. Board-Certified Pediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist
C. Aycinena Marcos, MS, RD. Registered Dietitian and Public Health/Clinical Nutritionist
K. Tatiana Maldonado, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS, CLEC. Pediatric Feeding Therapist
K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT. Pediatric Feeding Therapist
Dr. S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)
Dr. R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist
- Baker, S.S., Baker, R.D. (2015). Early Exposure to Dietary Sugar and Salt. Pediatrics, 135(3), 550-551. DOI:10.1542/peds.2014-4028. Retrieved July 26, 2022
- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2019). Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. DOI: 10.17226/25353. Retrieved July 26, 2022
- U. S. Food & Drug Administration. Dangers of raw milk. Retrieved July 26, 2022
- González, S., Fernández-Navarro, T., Arboleya, S., de Los Reyes-Gavilán, C. G., Salazar, N., & Gueimonde, M. (2019). Fermented Dairy Foods: Impact on Intestinal Microbiota and Health-Linked Biomarkers. Frontiers in microbiology, 10, 1046. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.01046. Retrieved July 26, 2022.
- HealthyChildren.org. (2019). Health Issues: Choking Prevention. Retrieved July 26, 2022
- Warren CM, Jhaveri S, Warrier MR, Smith B, Gupta RS. The epidemiology of milk allergy in US children. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2013;110(5):370-374. doi:10.1016/j.anai.2013.02.016. Retrieved July 23, 2022
- El-Agamy, E. (2007). The challenge of cow milk protein allergy. Small Ruminant Research, 68, 64-72. DOI: 10.1016/j.smallrumres.2006.09.016. Retrieved July 23, 2022
- North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Foundation. Cow’s milk protein allergy. GI Kids. Retrieved July 23, 2022
- Wood RA, Sicherer SH, Vickery BP, et al. The natural history of milk allergy in an observational cohort. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013;131(3):805-812. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2012.10.060. Retrieved July 23, 2022
- Comas-Basté, O., Sánchez-Pérez, S., Veciana-Nogués, M. T., Latorre-Moratalla, M., & Vidal-Carou, M. (2020). Histamine Intolerance: The Current State of the Art. Biomolecules, 10(8), 1181. DOI: 10.3390/biom10081181. Retrieved July 23, 2022
- Nazar, W., Plata-Nazar, K., Sznurkowska, K., & Szlagatys-Sidorkiewicz, A. (2021). Histamine Intolerance in Children: A Narrative Review. Nutrients, 13(5), 1486. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13051486. Retrieved July 23, 2022
- Nowak-Węgrzyn A. Food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome and allergic proctocolitis. Allergy Asthma Proc. 2015 May-Jun;36(3):172-84. doi: 10.2500/aap.2015.36.3811. Retrieved July 23, 2022
- National Organization for Rare Disorders. (2019). Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome. Retrieved July 24, 2022
- InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Living with lactose intolerance. 2010 Sep 15 [Updated 2018 Nov 29]. Retrieved July 26, 2022