Cheese can be a wonderful source of protein, "healthy" fats, and calcium for growing babies, and you may find that your baby has a taste for all the cheesy-goodness that this dairy product has to offer. Cheese can be offered before baby's first birthday. However, you may find more success with getting your baby interested in cheese if you follow these tips.
Age for Feeding Baby Cheese
First, you may want to double check with your pediatrician about her suggestions for when to start giving your baby cheese. It was not too long ago that the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested longer delays for starting certain solid foods. However, new research indicates that a long delay of starting certain foods has no effect on the risk of developing food allergies for babies who are not considered high risk.
Most pediatricians recommend offering cheeses sometime between 8 to 10 months of age to babies with no family history of food allergies. Children who have one parent or a sibling with a food allergy may be advised to delay a bit longer.
Best Cheeses for Babies
Pick mild tasting cheeses to begin with your baby. Colby, Jack, and American cheeses can be a great starting point, as well as cottage cheese. As your baby gets a taste for cheese, you may want to try other types such as Parmesan and Romano.
Tips for Cottage Cheese for Babies
Cottage cheese is also a mild cheese, but because of the texture, it may not go over to well in the beginning. As your baby becomes more accustomed to textures,it can be a very popular choice. Just make sure that you choose a whole milk cottage cheese. Similar to the guidelines for giving your baby yogurt, it is important for your growing baby to get the full fat offered in these dairy products.>
There are many things that you can do with cottage cheese to please your baby's palate. If the texture is too much for your baby, you can purée it down a bit. Additionally, you can add some of your baby's favorite fruits and veggies into the cottage cheese for extra flavor. You may want to try some of these combinations.
- Blend with a mashed banana or avocado. The nutritional content of avocado is wonderful for babies.
- Finely dice fruit and mix together.
- Try adding spices to increase baby's palate. Pepper, garlic powder, or onion powder (just a tiny pinch!) can be a great way to start introducing fuller flavors to your baby.
- Blend with mashed lentils or beans.
Avoiding Soft Cheeses for Your Baby
Keep in mind that there are some types of cheese that you may want to steer clear of for a bit. Cheeses that are not cultured or that are not pasteurized are not the best choices. Often called "soft" cheeses (ones like Brie, Feta, Camembert, Roquefort, and Bleu Cheese), these cheeses are made from raw milk and may contain bacteria. Cultured dairy products that have undergone pasteurization are safer for your baby. Check individual labels to be sure.
Tips for Serving Cheese to Your Baby
So besides just giving your baby a slab of cheese, wondering what other ways you can serve your baby cheese? Here are a few ideas:
- Serve shredded cheese to your self-feeding baby. Buying cheese by the block and shredding it yourself can be a real money saver! (See other frugal baby budget tips.)
- Melt cheese over warm veggies.
- Melt of serve on small pieces of bread, toasts, bagels, or the like.
- Cheesy quesadilla that is cut up in appropriate portions can be a baby favorite.
- Scrambled eggs with melted cheese adds a great source of protein.
- Serve grated Parmesan or Romano cheese over pastas.
For a more complete listing of the timing of certain solids, read When Can My Baby Eat ...?"