I completely understand your confusion. Depending on where you look, you will likely read a different answer on the "ideal" timing of baby yogurt. My best suggestion is for you to talk to your pediatrician and find out if he has a suggested timeline of introducing foods. That being said, let me give you the skinny on what your doctor might tell you and why.
At What Age Can Babies Have Yogurt?
Many doctors recommend introducing yogurt between 9 to 10 months of age. However, recent studies indicate that the timing of certain solids after baby has reached 4 to 6 months is not as important as once believed. In light of that, some pediatricians might recommend introducing selected yogurts, like plain, whole milk yogurt, as early as 6 months.
What Yogurt Is Good For Babies?
At whatever age you choose to start yogurt, be a little selective about your choice of baby yogurts. While many yogurts are marketed to kids, not all are as healthy as others. Be sure you select a whole milk yogurt because your baby needs the nutritious fat in yogurt for proper development.
While their are popular lines of yogurt marked to babies (Compare Prices), realize that many of these yogurts add extra sugar. While all yogurt contains naturally occurring sugars, you likely want to be mindful of how much sugar is added and if there are other additives - like fructose syrup, starches and the like.
My yogurt of choice was always just your plain, whole milk yogurt. For flavor I would stir in a fruit or veggie purée that I knew my baby tolerated well. The bonus - I'd buy a large tub of yogurt and save money. Baby and kid 6-pack yogurts are much more expensive!
What Fruits and Veggies Mix Well With Yogurt?
You can make all sorts of different yogurt concoctions. You might try mixing yogurt with:
What About Shelf Stable Yogurts?
If you are in the baby aisle of your local grocery store, you might spy shelf stable yogurt on the shelves. These are baby yogurts that do not need to be refrigerated, which is nice if you want something you can toss in your diaper bag when you are out on the run. What you need to realize about these yogurts is that they have been pasteurized after culturing. What this means is that the cultures are destroyed in the process. So many of the elements that make yogurt such a healthy option are no longer present in the shelf stable yogurt.
What About Yogurt Smoothies for Babies?
If you enjoy making your own baby foods, you might consider making your own baby smoothies. I found frozen smoothies placed in a mesh baby feeder (Compare Prices) to be a great way to sooth the teething baby's sore gums.
But Isn't Yogurt a Dairy Product?
Confused about why yogurt (and cheese) is okay before one year, but milk is not? Here are a few reasons.
- Cow's milk does not match the needed nutrition that breastmilk and/or infant formula provide. Doctors do not want parents to replace breastmilk or formula with cow milk until after a year.
- Just like other solid foods, your baby will continue to drink their needed breastmilk or formula. Yogurt is a supplement to the nutrition they receive, not a replacement.
- Yogurt and cheese undergo a culturing process that breaks down the milk proteins. This makes yogurt and cheese easier to digest, while being a great source of protein.
For a more complete listing of the timing of certain solids, read When Can My Baby Eat ...?"
Greer FR, Sicherer SH, Burks AW; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition; American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Allergy and Immunology.Effects of early nutritional interventions on the development of atopic disease in infants and children: the role of maternal dietary restriction, breastfeeding, timing of introduction of complementary foods, and hydrolyzed formulas. Pediatrics. 2008 Jan;121(1):183-91.