Brie Cheese

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 12 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Common Allergen: Yes (
  • Dairy
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May cause allergic reactions.

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a wedge of brie with the tip cut off and placed to the side

When can children eat brie cheese?

Wait until a child is at least 12 months of age before introducing pasteurized brie due to its moderate sodium levels and because soft, mold-ripened cheeses carry a higher risk of foodborne illness. Baking pasteurized brie to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius) significantly reduces the risk of foodborne illness.1 2 All babies and young children should avoid consumption of unpasteurized brie.3

The best cheeses for babies younger than 12 months old are pasteurized and low in sodium, including emmentaler, fresh goat cheese, labneh, mascarpone cheese, fresh mozzarella cheese, paneer, fresh ricotta cheese, and swiss cheese.

Warning

Raw milk cheeses, like traditional unpasteurized brie, carry the risk of several infections, some of which can be serious and even fatal.4 5 6 7 8 Know that pasteurized soft cheeses are not without risk; they can become infected with Listeria if the cheese is produced in facilities with unsanitary conditions or if it is not stored or handled safely.9 Baking pasteurized brie to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius) reduces the risk of illness.

Where does brie cheese come from?

Brie is named after the region in France where the soft, mold-ripened cheese originated. To make this cheese, curds of raw cow’s milk were exposed to natural molds in caves, cellars, and other cool, dark storage places. The molds cause surface yeast to bloom into a rind and flavor the creamy interior as the cheese matures. Only brie from two French towns—Meaux and Melun—are certified with appellation d’origine contrôlée, an official protection guaranteeing their authenticity. Traditionally made with raw cow’s milk, these brie cheeses (often spelled with a capital B to distinguish the origin) are tough to find in the United States, where unpasteurized cheeses must be aged for at least 60 days. This is why pasteurized forms of brie dominate American markets.

Julian, 13 months, eats small amounts of cooked brie spread on toast.
Leila, 16 months, eats brie on a cracker.
Cooper, 18 months, eats cooked brie spread on a thin rice cake.

Is brie cheese healthy for children?

It depends. If the cheese is pasteurized, yes. Unpasteurized brie, however, carries a significantly increased risk of foodborne illness.

Even pasteurized brie, which is mold-ripened, carries some risk of foodborne illness. Therefore, wait until at least 12 months of age before offering pasteurized brie. To further reduce the risk of foodborne illness, consider baking pasteurized brie to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius).10 11

Nutritionally, brie offers plenty of healthy fats and protein. It is also a great source of vitamin B12 for nervous system development and zinc for sensory development, plus a dash of vitamin B6 for energy. It also provides other B vitamins, some calcium, and vitamin A. That said, brie often has sodium levels higher than what is healthy for toddlers.12 When possible, focus on low-sodium cheeses and serve cheeses like pasteurized brie in moderation.

When shopping for cheese for young children, look for the following:

  • Pasteurized
  • Low sodium (less than 100 mg per serving)
  • Made from whole milk (ideally)

When can children eat unpasteurized (raw) brie cheese?

Whether to serve unpasteurized brie cheese is a personal decision for which you must calculate risk. While unpasteurized/raw cheeses are consumed by children in many parts of the world, eating these cheeses carries a significantly increased risk of foodborne illness, to which babies, young children, children with sickle cell disease, and immunocompromised individuals are more susceptible.13 14 15 Several national and international organizations, including the U.S. American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food & Drug Administration, International Association for Food Protection, and the World Health Organization, strongly advocate for only consuming pasteurized milk and milk products.

Is brie cheese a common choking hazard for children?

It can be. Cheese can be a choking hazard for babies and children as it can be sticky and tends to form a “glob” in the mouth.16 To reduce the risk of choking, avoid serving cheese in cubes and instead, slice thinly or spread on other foods like bread. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.

Is brie cheese a common allergen?

Yes. Brie cheese is typically made from cow’s milk, which is a common food allergen in young children, accounting for about one-fifth of all childhood food allergies in the United States.17 Keep in mind that dairy products from other ruminants such as sheep, goat, and buffalo may provoke similar allergic reactions to cow’s milk dairy products.18 If baby is allergic to dairy, know that it is an allergy that often disappears with time. Research shows that most 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.19

Milk and other dairy products are a known cause 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 of the food trigger. Left untreated, the reaction can result in significant dehydration. Thankfully, like other forms of milk allergy, FPIES that presents early in life is generally outgrown by the time the child has reached 3-5 years of age.20 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).21

For those with older children who are lactose intolerant (keep in mind this is uncommon for infants and toddlers), some good news: cheese is often tolerated better than milk because it has lower lactose content than milk and some other dairy products.22 23When a child is lactose-intolerant, it’s important to find calcium-rich foods to consume regularly to ensure a balanced diet and support bone health, such as naturally low-lactose cheeses and dairy products labeled “lactose-free.”

If you suspect a child may be allergic to dairy products, consult an allergist before introducing cheeses like brie. Based on a child’s risk factors and history, an allergist may recommend allergy testing, or may instead advise dairy product introduction under medical supervision in the office. If the risk is low, you may be advised to go ahead and introduce cheese 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 servings.

How can brie cheese affect a child’s poop?

Many cheeses, including brie, are relatively high in fat and low in fiber, which slows the processes of digestion and pooping. Significant consumption of cheese and milk can be a contributing factor in constipation.

How do you prepare brie for children with baby-led weaning?

6 to 12 months old: Avoid. Opt for pasteurized, low-sodium cheeses such as emmental, goat cheese, mascarpone, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, paneer, labneh, or swiss cheese.

12 months old and up: After baby’s first birthday, it is our professional opinion that it is okay to offer pasteurized brie on occasion, though it is not without risk. Consider the risk factors of the child (current health, age) and the source of the cheese. When you are ready to introduce it, you can offer thin slices or bite-sized pieces of pasteurized brie or spread pasteurized brie on bread. To further reduce the risk of foodborne illness, bake pasteurized brie to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius). Avoid unpasteurized brie.

a hand holding cooked brie spread on toast
Cooked brie spread on toast for toddlers 12 months+
a hand holding four bite-sized pieces of brie
Bite-sized pieces of brie for toddlers 12 months+

Learn more about how much sodium babies should have on our Sodium FAQ page.

What are some recipe ideas for cooking with brie?

While the flavor of brie varies widely, all types have a creamy texture that tastes delicious with sweet-tart fruits. Its nutty, rich flavor tastes great with apple compote, cranberry sauce, poached pears, or stewed rhubarb. Brie also pairs well with earthy flavors like egg, meat, mushrooms, onion, olive, and potato—so try using brie in a mushroom frittata or melting it on top of baked potatoes or burgers. Want to keep it simple? You can’t go wrong with baked brie.

Recipe: Baked Brie

a wheel of brie cheese baked until melted with several slices of fruit and small pieces of bread next to it

Yield: 1 cheese wheel
Time: 30 minutes
Age: 12 months +

Ingredients

  • 1 whole wheel pasteurized brie cheese
  • 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon (2 grams) ground paprika or any spice (optional)

This recipe contains a common allergen: dairy (brie cheese). Only serve to a child after this allergen has been safely introduced. 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (191 degrees Celsius).
  2. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper.
  3. Remove the brie cheese wheel from its packaging, then rub the cheese with oil.
  4. If you like, season the cheese wheel with spice.
  5. Bake the cheese until the top is soft, about 15 minutes. It is ready when the top of the wheel feels very soft when gently pressed with a spoon.
  6. While the cheese is baking, prepare some sides to serve with it. Apple or pear slices, halved figs, and toasted bread taste delicious!
  7. Remove the tray from the oven. Cool the cheese until it is warm, not piping hot, to the touch, about 5 minutes. Cutting open the top of the wheel allows steam to escape and helps the cheese to cool faster.
  8. When introducing brie cheese, eat alongside the child to model how it’s done. For younger toddlers, spread a thin layer of brie on the side of choice and pass it to the child. For older children, offer a spoon or a slice of toast or fruit and show the child how to scoop the melty cheese themselves.

To Store: Baked brie is best enjoyed within 2 hours after baking. Any leftovers keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Flavor Pairings

The flavor of brie pairs nicely with apple, bread, hazelnut, pear, pork sausage, and rabbit.

Reviewed by

J. Truppi, MS, CNS. Certified Nutrition Specialist®

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP. Board-Certified Pediatric Dietitian and 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

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  2. European Food Safety Authority. (2019). Listeria. Retrieved September 20, 2021
  3. Committee on Infectious Diseases; Committee on Nutrition; American Academy of Pediatrics. (2014). Consumption of raw or unpasteurized milk and milk products by pregnant women and children. Pediatrics, 133(1), 175-179. doi:10.1542/peds.2013-3502. Retrieved September 20, 2021
  4. Committee on Infectious Diseases; Committee on Nutrition; American Academy of Pediatrics. (2014). Consumption of raw or unpasteurized milk and milk products by pregnant women and children. Pediatrics, 133(1), 175-179. doi:10.1542/peds.2013-3502. Retrieved September 20, 2021
  5. Schvartzman, M. S., Gonzalez-Barron, U., Butler, F., & Jordan, K. (2014). Modeling the growth of Listeria monocytogenes on the surface of smear- or mold-ripened cheese. Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology, 4, 90. DOI: 10.3389/fcimb.2014.00090. Retrieved September 20, 2021
  6. KidsHealth. (2017). Listeria infections. Retrieved September 20, 2021
  7. National Health Service. (2018). Foods to avoid giving babies and young children. Retrieved September 20, 2021
  8. Choi, K. H., Lee, H., Lee, S., Kim, S., & Yoon, Y. (2016). Cheese Microbial Risk Assessments – A Review. Asian-Australasian journal of animal sciences, 29(3), 307–314. DOI: 10.5713/ajas.15.0332. Retrieved September 20, 2021
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Prevention. Listeria (listeriosis). Retrieved May 5, 2022
  10. National Health Service. (2018). Foods to avoid giving babies and young children. Retrieved September 20, 2021
  11. European Food Safety Authority. (2019). Listeria. Retrieved September 20, 2021
  12. 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 May 5, 2022
  13. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2018). The dangers of raw milk: Unpasteurized milk can pose a serious health risk. Retrieved January 24, 2022
  14. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Raw milk questions and answers. Retrieved January 24, 2022
  15. Committee on Infectious Diseases; Committee on Nutrition; American Academy of Pediatrics. (2014). Consumption of raw or unpasteurized milk and milk products by pregnant women and children. Pediatrics. 133(1):175-179. doi:10.1542/peds.2013-3502. Retrieved January 24, 2022
  16. HealthyChildren.org. (2019). Health Issues: Choking Prevention. Retrieved May 5, 2022
  17. Warren, C.M., Jhaveri, S., Warrier, M.R., Smith, B., Gupta, R.S. (2013). The epidemiology of milk allergy in US children. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunology, 110(5):370-374. DOI:10.1016/j.anai.2013.02.016. Retrieved September 22, 2020
  18. 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 May 5, 2022
  19. GIKids. (2019). Cow’s milk protein allergy. Retrieved September 20, 2021
  20. 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. PMID: 25976434; PMCID: PMC4405595.
  21. National Organization for Rare Disorders. Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome. Retrieved May 6, 2022
  22. Porto, A. (2016). Lactose intolerance in infants & children: Parent FAQs. Retrieved September 20, 2021
  23. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. (2016). Living with lactose intolerance. Retrieved September 20, 2021