Find out when babies can have yogurt (hint: it’s earlier than you think), plus learn how to choose the healthiest options for your little one.
- Written by Genevieve Howland
- Updated on September 19, 2019
It’s 10 a.m. and it’s time for a snack. You see that container of yogurt in the fridge and wonder: When can babies have yogurt? Is it a healthy option? We’ve got all of the answers.
In this post, we’ll cover:
- When can babies have yogurt
- The health benefits of yogurt
- The best yogurt for babies
- Plus, how to introduce and serve yogurt
Can Babies Have Yogurt?
Yogurt is an excellent food for babies, and they can start to have yogurt as soon as they start eating solids, typically around six months of age.
Six months?! So many baby books instruct parents to delay yogurt until eight or even nine months, so what gives? While conventional wisdom used to stick with the 8-9 month rule for introducing dairy products like yogurt, the latest research shows that shows that earlier introduction of common allergen foods, like dairy, may help prevent food allergies. Of course, if you have a family history of dairy allergies or your child is immune compromised, talk to your doctor first.
If you do opt to start yogurt around six months, know that yogurt is an easier food to feed and most babies enjoy the flavor and texture of yogurt. It’s also got plenty of health benefits.
Health Benefits of Yogurt
Yogurt is a well-balanced food complete with healthy fats, a good serving of protein, and milk sugar. Plus, organic whole yogurt is also high in:
- Calcium: This mineral promotes strong bones.
- Vitamin D: This vitamin helps your body absorb calcium. It also helps boost the immune system.
- Phosphorus: Like calcium and vitamin D, this too helps promote strong bones and teeth.
- Naturally-occuring live cultures: These live cultures are probiotics, which are gut-healthy flora that help colonize baby’s gut with beneficial bacteria.
What is the Best Yogurt for Babies?
There are a lot of types of yogurt available these days: Greek yogurt, French-style, Swiss-style, Icelandic style… not to mention ones mixed with fruit and maple syrup. There are even dairy-free options made with almond or coconut milk. But which one is right for your baby?
As a general rule: Plain organic whole yogurt is best.
This type of yogurt is pre-digested and easier on baby’s still-developing digestive system. Although “pre-digested” may sound gross, it simply means that the food has been partially digested by beneficial bacteria. These foods are then loaded with probiotic power, thanks to these good microorganisms. Interestingly, this is why some babies cannot tolerate cow’s milk, but have zero problems with cow yogurt.
Why use plain yogurt?
It’s tempting to get the fruit-based or sweetened yogurts, but there are a few reasons why it’s important to get plain.
- Helps your baby get used to sour tastes, which is an important step in preventing picky eating.
- Typically has lower sugar content.
- Doesn’t contain any dyes.
- Works as a good base for savory recipes.
If your baby isn’t going for it, or you’d like to spice it up, plain yogurt is a perfect palette for adding in fruits and spices. Scroll down for some great ideas.
What Brand of Yogurt is Best for Babies?
So you’ve narrowed it down to organic whole yogurt, but which brand is best? Here are the top four yogurts you can buy for your baby.
Best organic baby yogurt
My favorite yogurt for babies is Organic Valley Whole Milk Yogurt. It has naturally occurring omega-3s and active probiotic cultures L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, and L. Casei—all of which are very important for promoting healthy gut flora and supporting the digestive system, the immune system, and overall health. Because it’s made from milk that comes from 100% grass-fed cows, it’s also incredibly rich and and creamy. It’s also very easy for baby to digest.
Though the 365 Everyday Value Organic yogurt is a bit thinner than the Organic Valley, it has many of the same great benefits. It contains six live and active probiotic cultures, plus contains added vitamin D. This yogurt is certified organic and Kosher, too.
Best Greek yogurt for babies
You may wonder: Can babies have Greek yogurt? Babies can have Greek yogurt, but because it’s “concentrated,” it tends to be harder to digest. I like to include occasionally for a boost in my baby’s protein intake. This store-bought Greek yogurt is best. It is a 4.5% milk fat yogurt, so it has lots of brain healthy fats. And because Wallaby is Australian-inspired and each batch is slow-crafted in small batches, it’s not too tart.
Siggi’s, an Icelandic-style yogurt, is a good option for older babies. It’s an Icelandic yogurt (sometimes listed as skyr) that’s made just like Greek yogurt and strained to remove liquid whey but is thicker and less tangy. Removing the whey results in a thick, protein-rich yogurt—up to 25 grams of protein per serving!
Alternatives to Yogurt for Babies
If your baby already has a dairy sensitivity, there are other yogurt options available, including cashew yogurt, coconut milk yogurt, but I prefer kefir made from goat or even camel milk.
Goat kefir is available at some health food stores. It generally has a very clean list of ingredients and is easier to digest than cow’s dairy, because the fat molecules are smaller. The consistency is a bit thinner—more like a thin smoothie—and it is tart and creamy. (source)
It sounds weird, but camel kefir is gaining popularity as a hugely healing food that’s great for kids with gut issues and food intolerances. In fact, studies suggest it can balance blood sugar levels, help kids overcome food allergies, boost immune function, and more. (source, source, source) Like regular milk, camel milk is a good source of healthy fats, but it has additional benefits, including more vitamin C and B, plus calcium, iron, and potassium.
Not seeing these brands in your local store? Keep these tips in mind while shopping:
- Look for yogurt that is labeled “100% organic whole plain yogurt”
- If your toddlers prefers a sweetened yogurt, choose yogurt that lists “organic cane sugar” or maple syrup as the sweetener. Avoid any yogurt with honey (as this can be dangerous for babies under 1), high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.
How to Introduce Yogurt
Because yogurt is dairy, one of the top common allergens, it’s important to introduce yogurt mindfully: Go slow and watch for reactions.
- Start with 1 teaspoon of yogurt. It may not seem like much (especially if your baby enjoyed that first bite), but resist the temptation to give more than this.
- Wait a day or two and slowly increase the quantity until you can serve 1/4 cup a day.
If you spot signs of an allergic reaction, check in with your pediatrician before serving any more dairy products. Common signs of allergies include rashes, running nose or congestion, gas, cramping, and GI upset.
Once you’ve introduced yogurt, you can start to get more creative:
- Add a little bit of breast milk to the yogurt
- Mix yogurt into baby food purees
- Add a drop of peanut butter to the yogurt (learn more about early introduction of peanut butter (and why it’s important)
How to Serve Yogurt to Older Babies and Toddlers
So your baby loves yogurt? What about your toddler? Try these 10 ideas for making yogurt even more delightful during mealtimes.
- Banana yogurt: Mash 1/4 of a banana with 1/4 cup of 100% organic plain yogurt.
- Cherry yogurt smoothie: Blend 1/2 cup of plain yogurt with 5 frozen dark sweet cherries or tart cherries. (This may help baby sleep better, too!)
- Sweet potato and yogurt: Mash 1/2 of a roasted sweet potato and top with a dollop of plain yogurt. This is a great way to sneak savory yogurt ideas into dinnertime.
- Peanut butter yogurt dip: (Find out why you’d want to give baby a little peanut butter.) Mix 1 tsp. of peanut butter in a 1 TB of plain yogurt. Use this as a dip for sliced apples.
- Blueberry yogurt mash: Combine 1 jar of organic blueberry baby food (or fresh blueberry puree) with 1/4 cup of plain yogurt. Mix well.
- Baby version of tzatziki: Wash and peel a cucumber, and then place it in the food processor. Add 1/4 cup of pureed cucumber into 1 cup of plain yogurt. Add the juice of half of a fresh lemon. (For more adventurous eaters, you can even add a small piece of garlic or a few cherry tomatoes to the food processor.)
- The Bowel Blend :): This combo is great for a constipated baby. Mix 2 oz. of pureed prunes (Earth’s Best makes a jarred version) into 4 oz. of yogurt. Blend well and serve. (You can even add 1/8 tsp of your favorite infant probiotic for an added bathroom boost!)
- Maple yogurt parfait: Stir one teaspoon of 100% real maple syrup into 1/2 cup of plain yogurt. Top with mashed strawberries.
- Oatmeal yogurt breakfast bowl: Make your baby’s favorite oatmeal (steel cut oats, rolled oats, etc.). Mix oatmeal and yogurt in a 2:1 ratio. Top with fresh fruit or a homemade blueberry puree.
- Tortilla-free tacos for baby: Mix 100% grass-fed beef with black beans. Add a little dollop of plain yogurt and let your baby explore new flavors.
How About You?
When did you introduce yogurt to your baby? How do you like to serve yogurt?