Welcome to the complete guide for babies and yogurt! We’ll cover when you can start offering yogurt to your baby, what to look for when shopping for yogurt, and some different ways you can offer yogurt to your baby!
What Age Can Babies Eat Yogurt?
Yogurt is technically safe and digestible for babies, BUT it also contains a lot of calcium. Iron and calcium are big competitors in the digestive system. They fight each other for absorption sites. When it comes to babies, we really want to “baby” the iron sources and give them the best chance at getting absorbed into the body.
You’ve heard us say it before and we’ll keep saying it louder until the people in the back hear: BABIES EATING SOLID FOOD NEED IRON! It’s the number one nutritional reason for starting solids. At 6 months of age, babies’ stores of iron start to deplete and the iron in breastmilk and formula just isn’t enough to keep up with their demands.
Suggested article if you’re not sure about food sources of iron: 5 Ways to Serve Your Baby Chicken
Which is why we recommend not feeding baby yogurt on its own until around 9-10 months or once baby is regularly consuming high iron foods at least two times a day.
From six months on, it’s fine to use a little yogurt in recipes (like our Green Pea Guacamole!) but you want to avoid placing a whole bowl of yogurt in front of baby to devour.
Because devouring it is very likely what she will do! Babies tend to love yogurt so again, that high volume of a calcium rich food can really affect their iron status if they’re not consuming adequate iron.
What Yogurt is Best For Babies?
Here are a few things you want to keep in mind when shopping for a yogurt for your baby!
Minimum 3% Milk Fat
Fat is very important for babies. They need fat for their brain and nerve system development as well as for the calories to support their growth. Remember, a baby will triple their birthweight by their first birthday!
As an adult you may be used to eating sweetened yogurt and can’t really fathom how plain yogurt could be enjoyable to anyone. But it’s true: babies don’t need the sugar to enjoy yogurt! They typically are more than fine (see above) with plain yogurt.
If you’d like, you can always add fruit to yogurt or squirt a bit of fruit puree from a sugar free pouch!
No Artificial Sweeteners
Babies don’t need sugar, nor do they need to have food that tastes sweet. While it’s likely that artificial sweeteners are safe for kids/babies, they haven’t been researched in this age group. Besides the safety factor, it’s a good idea to get their taste buds acclimatized to less sweet foods so that when you introduce dessert foods when they’re older, they will appreciate how sweet they are!
Skip the Greek or Skyr
These types of yogurt typically contain high concentrations of protein, either by the addition of isolated milk proteins or by straining the yogurt to remove liquid.
I know, I know; high protein foods are all the rage right now, and you’re thinking “what could possibly be the problem”? High protein foods are likely fine and may even be beneficial for adults. But protein needs for babies are relatively low! Recent research shows that the environment during first couple of years of a child’s life can have an impact on their genetic programming. Some studies have correlated higher intakes of dairy protein with altering infants’ predicted growth trajectory. We don’t know whether this is harmful or not. But, until further research is conducted, laying off the concentrated forms of protein is a cautionary step.
Moreover, we want your baby to get protein from those…yes yes…iron rich foods like lentils, beans, eggs, or meat!
If you’d like to use Greek yogurt or Skyr from time to time or in a recipe. Go for it! But your baby doesn’t need to eat a bowl full on it’s own!
Probiotics Are Fine, But Not Necessary
Some yogurt brands add in specific strains of bacteria that are known to provide a health benefit to humans, aka: probiotics! Most of these added to yogurt are probiotics shown to help improve gut motility. In other words, they help prevent constipation!
If the yogurt you purchase contains a probiotic, this is fine to serve to baby but it’s not necessary to go out of your way to access one.
No Need to Buy Kid or Baby Versions
Sometimes the yogurt aisle feels like a rotating door of options! It’s hard to keep up with the everchanging varieties. Occasionally, we will see some yogurts marketed specifically for babies, toddlers, or kids (is Minigo still a thing?). While these are likely fine options, babies and kids don’t need their own yogurt. Following the criteria outlined above, there are plenty of yogurt options the whole family can enjoy!
Homemade Yogurt is Safe
Many of you may already be making yogurt at home, in which case, that’s awesome! Nita grew up in a Punjabi home where yogurt was made fresh every 2 to 3 days. For many cultures, yogurt (also known as curd) is an everyday food. And that’s wonderful. We don’t argue that it’s full of nutrition. Heck, some days we consume yogurt twice with Indian meals! But we encourage you to offer it at a different time than when iron rich foods are served at least until those iron rich foods are well established. We know…confusing. Just give it another read!
Suggested read: 5 Indian Foods to Offer Your Baby
How to Serve Yogurt to Babies
As mentioned, babies tend to love plain yogurt! But you can also use it as a vehicle for other foods! Try mixing in:
- Hemp hearts, chia seeds, or ground flax seed
- Peanut butter, nut butter, or tahini
- Fruit purees
Try giving your baby a spoon to practice with or simply allow them to have fun exploring yogurt with their hands! It’ll be a messy, foodie, sensory experience!
We know you don’t want to be left out of the fun as the caregiver. Here are some ideas for joining baby on their yogurt snack with these 6 ways to flavour plain yogurt for adults and older children.
Best Yogurt Choices for Baby
This list is not exhaustive; there are plenty of yogurt varieties out there that match our shopping guide. But to give you a starting point, we scanned the yogurt aisle in one of our local grocery stores in Winnipeg, Canada, and made a list of some yogurts that meet our criteria!
- Activia Plain
- Astro Original Balkan Yogurt (6% MF)
- Halal 3% Yogurt
- Liberte Mediterranean Plain (10%MF)
- Oikos No Sugar Added (11% MF)
- Olympic Organic 3.5% Plain
- Olympic Natural 3.5% or 6% MF
- President’s Choice 3% plain yogurt
- Suraj 3.25% Dahi Yogurt
*article updated March 3rd, 2021 to further clarify the reason we recommend skipping Greek or Skyr yogurt for babies.