When can babies eat yogurt?
You may offer yogurt (cow’s milk or otherwise) as soon as your baby is ready for solids, which is generally around 6 months old. Note that dairy is a common food allergen so it’s recommended to start with a small amount and work up to larger portions over time.
Is yogurt healthy for babies?
Like all dairy products, the quality of the yogurt depends on the quality of the animal milk and how the animal was raised. Yogurt made with milk from pasture-raised cows, for example, has been shown to be higher in healthy fats and other nutrients than from cows raised on grain 12. Unfortunately, non-organic dairy products may contain pesticide residues (including DDT, an endocrine-disrupting chemical) that have been shown to adversely affect a child’s physical, mental and behavioral health.34
What is the best yogurt for babies?
Full fat (or whole milk), pasteurized, plain yogurt is best for babies. Greek yogurt is especially helpful for little ones who are starting solids because it has less whey and lactose than other yogurt styles. (Be sure to check the ingredient list to ensure no whey protein concentrate has been added.) Greek yogurt is also great for little ones who are practicing with spoons as it clings to utensil (and tiny fingers!)
Note: Flavored yogurt tends to be high in added sugar, so look for plain yogurt and add your own smashed fruit if you’d like to add flavor.
I’ve heard babies should not have dairy before they are 12 months old
Babies should not be given cow’s milk as a substitute for breast milk or formula, as cow’s milk lacks certain nutrients that babies need for optimal growth. Additionally, cow’s milk contains proteins that can strain a baby’s immature kidneys. Yogurt, however, contains live cultures that help break down the proteins and lactose in cow’s milk, making it appropriate for babies to eat and easier to digest. Greek yogurt in particular is friendly to little tummies as more milk protein (whey) is removed during its processing.
Since dairy is a common food allergen, it is wise to hold off introducing yogurt until your baby is 6 months old and has a more developed gastrointestinal tract. Sheep’s milk yogurt and goat yogurt tend to be gentler on baby bellies so if your little one is lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy, you might consider introducing these plain yogurts as well.
Is yogurt a common choking hazard for babies?
No, though in theory an individual can choke on any food or liquid. As always, make sure to create a safe eating environment, stay within an arm’s reach of a baby during meals, and never put cow milk in a bottle or sippy cup.
Is yogurt a common food allergen?
Yes. According to FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), milk allergy is the number one food allergy for babies and young children, affecting 2.5% of kids under age three. 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.5 6
If you are introducing dairy to your baby for the first time, start small—a couple spoonfuls of yogurt—and see how your baby reacts. Allergic reactions may include watery eyes, hives, rashes, wheezing, itching, facial swelling, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, and tummy cramps. If the reaction is severe, if your baby’s face is flushed, and/or if she is having trouble breathing, call 9-1-1 immediately, as your baby may be experiencing anaphylactic shock.
While fear of food allergies seems to be at an all-time high, modern science is demonstrating the benefits of introducing food allergens as soon as your baby is starting solids. For tips on introducing nuts and other common food allergens, see my guide below.
How do you prepare yogurt for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline. The preparation suggestions below are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional, nutritionist or dietitian, or expert in pediatric feeding and eating. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 12 months old: People assume that foods that require a utensil to eat cannot be served to babies who are self-feeding. But babies can be quite adept at scooping up foods with their little hands and sucking it off their fingers. It’s messy but great for motor skills development. You can also pre-load spoons for your baby to pick up with her own hands. Greek yogurt works well in this case because it sticks to spoons nicely. Either way, it’s going to get messy!
12 to 18 months old: At this age it’s a great time to work on independence with spoons. Pre-load your toddler’s spoon if need be but be sure to let your child pick up their own spoon and try to scoop on their own before you do it for them.
18 to 24 months old: Parfait time! This is a great age to introduce a variety of toppings for yogurt and to use it as a way to introduce usual flavors, such as tart, tannic cranberry sauce. Use yogurt as a dip as a healthier alternative to mayonnaise and other dips.
For more information on how to cut food for your baby’s age, hop over to our section on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Recipe: Yogurt with Banana Sticks
- Greek yogurt (plain, full fat)
- 1 banana
- Scoop the yogurt out into a bowl that suctions to the table.
- Split the banana vertically by pushing your finger into the top of it and serve with the banana sticks vertically standing in the yogurt so it’s easy for your baby to grab them.
- Let your baby hand-scoop the yogurt or offer pre-loaded spoons. Or both!
Yogurt combinations are endless and need not always be sweet. Try mixing nut butters into them, such as peanut butter, hazelnut butter, and pumpkin seed butter, as well as serving alongside meat balls and lentil patties for dipping.
-  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 cheese. Journal of Dairy Science, 100(8), 6053-6073. DOI:10.3168/jds.2016-12508. Retrieved August 17, 2020 from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022030217305945
- 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 composition. Journal of Dairy Science, 98(2), 721-746. DOI:10.3168/jds.2014-8389. Retrieved August 17, 2020 from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022030214008376
- Patisaul, H. B., & Adewale, H. B. (2009). Long-term effects of environmental endocrine disruptors on reproductive physiology and behavior. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 3, 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/neuro.08.010.2009
- Owino, V. O., Cornelius, C., & Loechl, C. U. (2018). Elucidating Adverse Nutritional Implications of Exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals and Mycotoxins through Stable Isotope Techniques. Nutrients, 10(4), 401. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10040401
- GiKids – Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy. (2020, February 26). GiKids. https://gikids.org/digestive-topics/cows-milk-protein-allergy/
- Wood, R. A., Sicherer, S. H., Vickery, B. P., Jones, S. M., Liu, A. H., Fleischer, D. M., Henning, A. K., Mayer, L., Burks, A. W., Grishin, A., Stablein, D., & Sampson, H. A. (2013). The natural history of milk allergy in an observational cohort. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 131(3), 805-812.e4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2012.10.060