Yogurt

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 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.
  • 1
  • 2
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  • 5
Poop Friendly:Whether a food has qualities that promote healthy pooping patterns. Yes
Common Allergen: Yes (
  • Dairy
  • )

May cause allergic reactions.

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A bowl of yogurt being prepared for a baby starting solid foods

When can babies eat yogurt?

Yogurt can be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Heard babies can’t have dairy? Dairy in the form of a solid food like yogurt is okay to introduce before 12 months, though babies should not be given cow’s milk until closer to 12 months of age, because a baby’s digestive system may not well tolerate cow milk protein in large quantities and cow’s milk is nutritionally incomplete.1 2 3 For more information on introducing milk and how many servings of dairy baby should be having, see our Milk FAQs.

Background and origins of yogurt

Milk and bacteria might not seem like a match made in heaven, but that’s exactly what yogurt is—milk (from cow, sheep, goat, water buffalo, yak, camel, and more) fermented with bacterial cultures until it is nearly solid. While the word yoghurt is Turkish in origin, the same basic food has been made and eaten throughout Europe, North Africa, and Asia for thousands of years. This long history has led to many distinct forms of yogurt and yogurt byproducts, including thinner, drinkable yogurts, dried yogurt, and yogurt-like foods such as skyr and labneh. Yogurt can be enjoyed on its own or used in cooking and baking, both in savory and sweet dishes.

★Tip: Large containers of yogurt are typically more affordable per ounce/milliliter than small, single-serving containers.

Kalani, 7 months, eats Greek yogurt with banana purée.
Malden, 9 months, eats yogurt with finely ground walnut.
Adie, 11 months, eats yogurt with a nut butter mixed in.

Is yogurt healthy for babies?

Yes. Full-fat yogurt (from any animal) is full of nutrients that babies need to grow and thrive. Yogurt contains high levels of the all-important calcium for bone development, some vitamin A for eye, skin, and immune health, all B-vitamins for energy, zinc for immune health, and potassium. Yogurt is also a great source of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Just be sure to offer baby whole milk (full-fat) yogurt. Babies needs lots of fat at this age to support cell structure, metabolism, brain, gut, immune, and nervous system development.4 5 6 7 That said, keep tabs on baby’s overall dairy intake as excess dairy consumption is associated with iron deficiency anemia.8 9 For more on how much dairy is okay, see our Milk FAQs.

Notably, the probiotic cultures that turn milk into yogurt can be incredibly beneficial for babies, whose microbiome (the friendly bacteria that live in the digestive tract) rapidly develops in the first few years of life.10 Because the microbiome may influence heart, brain, metabolic, and, especially, immune health, regular intake of probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, or its cousin, kefir, builds beneficial microbial colonies in the gut.11 12

Lastly, there are differences in yogurt from pasture-raised animals versus conventional farms. For example, yogurt made with milk from pasture-raised cows has been shown to be higher in omega 3 fats and other nutrients than from cows raised on grain.13 14 Non-organic dairy products may also contain pesticide residues (including DDT, an endocrine-disrupting chemical) that may adversely affect a child’s physical, mental and behavioral health.15 16 Organic dairy often – but not always – is more expensive than conventional, so if organic is not possible for you, consider making your own yogurt. Regardless, all plain yogurt varieties are beneficial. If food security is a concern for you, look into online resources such as FindHelp and Feeding America to identify local food aid resources near you.

Is raw milk yogurt safe for babies?

No. Babies have immature immune systems that are still developing, and raw milk yogurt can harbor pathogenic bacteria and other potential contaminants that can increase the risk of foodborne illnesses, which can be fatal to babies. Pasteurization—the process of heating a food to a certain temperature to kill bacteria—is fundamental to reducing the risk of foodborne illness and thus making food safer to eat.17 For these reasons and more, many medical organizations recommend that all milk for human consumption should be pasteurized.18 In yogurt making, pasteurization of milk occurs before probiotic cultures are added to create yogurt, so its probiotic benefits are maintained.

What is the best yogurt for babies?

Full-fat (or whole milk) plain yogurt that has been pasteurized is best for babies. Greek yogurt is especially helpful for babies starting solids because it clings well to spoons (and fingers!). Otherwise, specific types of yogurt have different tastes and nutritional strengths, so have fun experimenting. In general, goat yogurt, Greek yogurt, and sheep milk yogurt varieties tend to have more protein than cow milk yogurt.

Which plant-based yogurts are best for babies?

Plant-based yogurt options are nearly limitless with ingredients ranging from soy, oat, pea protein, coconut, cashew, almond, macadamia nut, fava bean, cassava, plantain, and more. Note that some of these “yogurts” may not contain probiotic cultures, and many contain added ingredients to improve texture and shelf-life, as well as sugar to improve flavor.

Unfortunately, plant-based yogurts often don’t contain as much protein, fat, calcium, or vitamin B12 as their animal-based counterparts, which are nutrients that are especially important for vegan babies. If shopping for a plant-based yogurt, opt for a brand with no added sugars that is fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Soy yogurt tends to be the most protein-rich substitute and is commonly fortified. For more guidance on milk substitutes, see our Milk FAQs.

Tip: Read labels and avoid yogurts that have added sugars such as maple syrup, blended fruits, and honey (which can also cause infant botulism).

Is yogurt a choking hazard for babies?

No, though in theory an individual can choke on any food or liquid. 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 yogurt a common food allergen?

Yes. Yogurt is often made from cow’s milk, which is a common food allergen in young children, accounting for about 20% of all childhood food allergies.19 And, while many yogurts are made from other milks, dairy products from other ruminants such as sheep, goat, and buffalo may provoke similar allergic reactions to cow’s milk dairy products.20 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 appropriate pediatric health professionals.21 22

For those with older children who are lactose intolerant (which is actually uncommon for infants), there’s good news as well: yogurt may be better tolerated by those with lactose intolerance, as it has lower lactose content than milk itself and because probiotics in the yogurt also help break down the lactose.23

If you have a strong family history of milk allergy or suspect that baby may be allergic to dairy products, you can consult an allergist before introducing yogurt. The allergist may advise you that the risk of home-based introduction is low. Alternatively, you may be offered the opportunity to introduce yogurt under medical supervision in the clinic, also known as an oral food challenge. As with all common allergens, start by serving a small quantity for the first few servings, and if there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future servings.

How do you prepare yogurt for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 9 months old: Offer full-fat (whole milk), pasteurized, plain yogurt. Greek yogurt is perfect for this age and will be easiest for babies to self-feed. Let baby scoop up the yogurt with their hands and/or eat from a pre-loaded spoon (passing the spoon in the air will make it easier for baby to grab). If you have already successfully introduced nut or seed butters, mixing them into yogurt will pack an extra nutritional punch and make the yogurt a bit thicker (and, thus, less likely to fall off the spoon).

9 to 12 months old: At this age babies are starting to get a bit more dexterous with their fingers and may be able to pick up pre-loaded spoons independently. Continue to offer full-fat (whole milk), pasteurized, plain yogurt or full-fat Greek yogurt and give baby plenty of opportunities to pick up the pre-loaded spoon independently. Note that many babies will tire with this activity quickly so don’t worry if you need to go back and forth between letting baby eat yogurt with their fingers, a pre-loaded spoon handed over the air, or a pre-loaded spoon resting on the edge of a bowl. Multiple spoons at the same time will help!

12 to 24 months old: In this age range, if you are still pre-loading spoons and handing them over in the air, this is a good time to pre-load the spoon and leave it on the edge of the bowl for the toddler to pick up independently and practice using. Be patient: consistent, independent utensil use may not come until closer to 15 – 18 months of age. Importantly, it is very common for toddlers and kids to consume too much dairy, which can lead to iron deficiency anemia. A child only needs around 2 to 2.5 servings of dairy per day or an equivalent calcium-rich food. Check out our Milk FAQs for more information.

For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.

Recipe: Greek Yogurt with Banana Sticks

bowl of yogurt with vertically sliced bananas standing up in it

Yield: ¼ cup (60 milliliters)
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup (60 milliliters) Greek yogurt
  • Optional: pinch of cinnamon
  • ½ medium banana

This recipe contains a common allergen: dairy. Only serve after this allergen has been safely introduced.

Directions

  1. Place the yogurt in a small bowl with suction. Stir in cinnamon if desired.
  2. Cut the banana (with the peel still on) in half and save the other half in the fridge for later. Peel the half banana and, gently, use your index finger to separate it into three separate spears (see a video demonstrating this technique here.)
  3. Serve: For a 6- to 12-month-old baby, demonstrate how to dip the banana sticks into the yogurt. For older toddlers, teach them to peel the banana themselves, break off pieces, and dip it into the yogurt on their own.

To Store: Store prepared or leftover yogurt in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Flavor Pairings

Yogurt has a creamy tartness that goes well with bright fruit flavors, such as blueberry, raspberry, banana, pomegranate, kiwi, pear, or strawberry. That creaminess also provides a great base for the mellow, nutty flavors from peanut, macadamia nut, pistachio, sesame, and flaxseed. Yogurt makes a delicious dip, especially when combined with herbs like mint and cilantro or spices like ginger, cumin, or paprika.

  1. Martin, C. R., Ling, P. R., & Blackburn, G. L. (2016). Review of Infant Feeding: Key Features of Breast Milk and Infant FormulaNutrients, 8(5), 279. DOI: 10.3390/nu8050279. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  2. Martin, C. R., Ling, P. R., & Blackburn, G. L. (2016). Review of Infant Feeding: Key Features of Breast Milk and Infant FormulaNutrients, 8(5), 279. DOI: 10.3390/nu8050279. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  3. Leung AK, Sauve RS. (2003). Whole cow’s milk in infancy. Paediatrics Child Health, 8(7), 419-421. DOI: 10.1093/pch/8.7.419. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  4. Lee, H., Padhi, E., Hasegawa, Y., Larke, J., Parenti, M., Wang, A., Hernell, O., Lönnerdal, B., & Slupsky, C. (2018). Compositional Dynamics of the Milk Fat Globule and Its Role in Infant DevelopmentFrontiers in pediatrics, 6, 313. DOI: 10.3389/fped.2018.00313. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  5. Delplanque, B., Gibson, R., Koletzko, B., Lapillonne, A., & Strandvik, B. (2015). Lipid Quality in Infant Nutrition: Current Knowledge and Future OpportunitiesJournal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition, 61(1), 8–17. DOI: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000000818. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  6. Pietrzak-Fiećko, R., & Kamelska-Sadowska, A. M. (2020). The Comparison of Nutritional Value of Human Milk with Other Mammals’ MilkNutrients, 12(5), 1404. DOI: 10.3390/nu12051404. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  7. O’Sullivan, T A, Schmidt, K A, & Kratz, M, (2020). Whole-Fat or Reduced-Fat Dairy Product Intake, Adiposity, and Cardiometabolic Health in Children: A Systematic ReviewAdvances in Nutrition, 11 (4), 928–950, DOI: 10.1093/advances/nmaa011. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  8. Joo, E. Y., Kim, K. Y., Kim, D. H., Lee, J. E., & Kim, S. K. (2016). Iron deficiency anemia in infants and toddlersBlood research, 51(4), 268–273. DOI: 10.5045/br.2016.51.4.268. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  9. Paoletti, G., Bogen, D. L., & Ritchey, A. K. (2014). Severe iron-deficiency anemia still an issue in toddlersClinical pediatrics, 53(14), 1352–1358. DOI: 10.1177/0009922814540990. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  10. Moore, R. E., & Townsend, S. D. (2019). Temporal development of the infant gut microbiomeOpen biology, 9(9), 190128. DOI: 10.1098/rsob.190128. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  11. Conlon, M. A., & Bird, A. R. (2014). The impact of diet and lifestyle on gut microbiota and human healthNutrients, 7(1), 17–44. DOI: 10.3390/nu7010017. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  12. Burokas A, Moloney RD, Dinan TG, Cryan JF. (2015). Microbiota regulation of the Mammalian gut-brain axis. Advances in Applied Microbiology, 91, 1-62. DOI: 10.1016/bs.aambs.2015.02.001. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  13. O’Callaghan, T.F., Mannion, D.T., Hennessy, D., McAuliffe, S., O’Sullivan, M., et al. (2017). Effect of pasture versus indoor feeding systems on quality characteristics, nutritional composition, and sensory and volatile properties of full-fat Cheddar cheeseJournal of Dairy Science, 100(8), 6053-6073. DOI:10.3168/jds.2016-12508. Retrieved August 17, 2020.
  14. Schwendel, B.H., Wester, T.J., Morel, P.C., Tavendale, M.H., Deadman, C., et al. (2015). Invited review: organic and conventionally produced milk-an evaluation of factors influencing milk compositionJournal of Dairy Science, 98(2), 721-746. DOI:10.3168/jds.2014-8389. Retrieved August 17, 2020.
  15. Patisaul, H. B., & Adewale, H. B. (2009). Long-term effects of environmental endocrine disruptors on reproductive physiology and behaviorFrontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 3, 10. DOI: 10.3389/neuro.08.010.2009. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  16. Owino, V. O., Cornelius, C., & Loechl, C. U. (2018). Elucidating Adverse Nutritional Implications of Exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals and Mycotoxins through Stable Isotope TechniquesNutrients, 10(4), 401. DOI: 10.3390/nu10040401. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  17. WHO Working Group. (1988). Foodborne Listeriosis. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 66 (4), 421-8. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  18. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Raw Milk Questions and Answers. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
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  20. 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 4, 2021.
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