Feeding baby yogurt at 3 months

When can babies eat yogurt, and which baby yogurt is best?

Most babies can start eating yogurt as soon as they start eating solids – around 4 to 6 months. Yogurt is an excellent choice for one of your baby's first foods because it contains calcium, protein, and vitamins. The best option is plain, unsweetened, pasteurized yogurt (regular or Greek) made from whole milk and containing "live cultures."

What kind of yogurt is best for babies?

Nearly all flavored and fruit-on-top yogurts, even products marketed for babies, contain added sugar, which can contribute to tooth decay and obesity. The USDA guidelines recommend that children under 2 years old get no added sugar from their diet. Choosing plain yogurt is the easiest way to avoid added sugar.

To see whether a product has added sugar, check the nutrition label. Look at the line under "Total Sugars" to see how much of the sugar in a product is added sugar. (All yogurt contains some natural sugar in the form of lactose. )

Yogurt made from whole milk is best for babies and toddlers because they need the calories and fat in full-fat dairy products. Don't offer your child reduced-fat or fat-free yogurt before age 2 unless your healthcare provider advises it.

Greek yogurt is strained for a rich, creamy texture, and has twice as much protein as regular yogurt, making it another good choice for babies. Plus, it's often easier to find Greek yogurt in sugar-free varieties.

Is yogurt healthy for babies?

In addition to being a good source of calcium and protein, some types of yogurt contain live cultures, also known as probiotics. These are living microorganisms (bacteria) used to convert milk to yogurt, or added to yogurt afterward. They promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, which researchers believe may help with digestion.

How can you tell whether yogurt has this good bacteria? The product label should state that the yogurt contains live or active cultures, which means the organisms haven't been destroyed by heat during processing. However, a label that says "made with active cultures" does not mean that the yogurt still contains living cultures, only that the yogurt was made with them (as all yogurt is).

It can be hard to tell if a yogurt contains a significant amount of beneficial bacteria. One way is to look for the Live & Active Cultures seal by the International Dairy Foods Association. This seal identifies products that contain at least 100 million live and active cultures per gram. But participation in the program is voluntary, so a product without the seal isn't necessarily short on cultures.

You may wonder why it's okay for babies to eat yogurt, when drinking cow's milk isn't recommended until a baby is at least 12 months old.

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Actually, a little bit of cow's milk, like the amount in the occasional serving of yogurt, won't hurt your baby. It's just not a good replacement for the breast milk or formula that still makes up most of their diet for the first year.

That's because babies can't digest cow's milk as easily or completely as breast milk or formula. And cow's milk doesn't have the ideal proportion of fats and nutrients that your baby gets from breast milk or formula.

For more information, see our article on when and how to introduce cow's milk to your child.

Yogurt allergies in babies

If your baby has been diagnosed with a milk allergy or shows signs of a food allergy (such as eczema), don't give them yogurt until you've checked with your healthcare provider.

Otherwise, as with any new food, wait at least three days after introducing yogurt before giving your baby another new food. That way, if your baby has an allergic reaction, it will be easier to tell what caused it.

Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include itchy red spots or patches, swelling around the lips or eyes, or vomiting within two hours of eating the recently introduced food. If you notice any of these symptoms, don't give your baby any more of the food until you've checked in with your provider.

Lactose intolerance – which is different from a milk allergy – is very rare in babies. Even if your child becomes lactose intolerant, it may be fine for them to eat yogurt. The production process breaks down much of the lactose, making yogurt more easily tolerated than other dairy products.

Yogurt recipes for babies

Your baby may not be a fan of plain yogurt, so try adding flavor (and nutrients) by mixing in fruit or vegetables. For babies who are new to solids, start with pureed fruit and cooked, pureed vegetables. For older babies, you can add soft fruit and cooked vegetables chopped into small pieces. Mashed avocado, applesauce, oatmeal, and wheat germ are also good additions.

Never give honey to a baby younger than 12 months because it may contain bacteria that can cause botulism in children that age.

Try these baby food recipes with yogurt:

  • Yogurt and berry swirl
  • Baby guacamole
  • Tropical fruit salad 

When Can Babies Eat Yogurt?

Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 14, 2021

In this Article

  • Introducing Your Baby to Yogurt
  • Nutritional Benefits of Yogurt for Your Baby
  • How to Prepare Yogurt for Your Baby
  • Tips for Introducing New Foods to Your Baby

When you begin to offer your baby solid food around six months, you introduce them to a variety of tastes, flavors, and textures. Before you begin, it’s important to know how to safely introduce allergenic foods. 

Yogurt is a great food choice once your baby is introduced to solids. Yogurt is safe for babies as long as you pay close attention to nutrition labels and watch for any allergic reactions. Talk to your doctor first if there is a history of dairy allergy or lactose intolerance in your family.

Introducing Your Baby to Yogurt

Be sure to read labels on yogurt and make sure to avoid two specific ingredients:

  • Honey. Honey isn't safe before 12 months because your baby may contract a type of food poisoning called botulism.
  • Added sugar. Many yogurts have added sugar or sweeteners that have no benefit for your baby. Try sweetening yogurt with fruit instead.

You should only introduce one new food at a time to your baby, and wait at least three days before introducing another. By doing this, you can pinpoint an allergic reaction if they have one. Since dairy allergies are common, this is especially important when offering yogurt to your baby.

Watch for these signs of an allergic reaction:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rash
  • Swelling around the lips or eyes

If your baby has an allergic reaction, stop feeding them yogurt and call your pediatrician. They can provide guidelines of when to try offering yogurt again to see if the allergy goes away with time.

Nutritional Benefits of Yogurt for Your Baby

Yogurt is rich in protein and calcium, as well as phosphorus and B vitamins. While protein aids in muscle development and calcium promotes strong bones and teeth, most of yogurt's health benefits seem to come from its live bacterial content. Yogurt and other fermented foods that contain specific strains of live bacteria are known as “probiotic.”  Probiotic foods like yogurt may help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your baby’s gut. Over time, probiotic foods may even prevent a wide range of health issues including obesity and diabetes.

A serving size for your baby is about half a cup of yogurt. Some yogurt brands are fortified with added protein and vitamins that are fine for your baby, but read labels carefully to look for added sugar and honey as ingredients. 

How to Prepare Yogurt for Your Baby

Once you have established that your baby isn't allergic to either yogurt or individual fruits, add chopped or mashed fruits to your baby’s yogurt for added taste and sweetness. Make sure the pieces are small enough that they aren't a choking hazard. 

Great chopped or mashed fruits to add to yogurt include:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Peaches
  • Banana

‌You can spoon-feed your baby or let them hold the spoon and try to feed themself. Of course, they might make a mess. This is part of their learning about food as they are introduced to solids. 

Tips for Introducing New Foods to Your Baby

Before offering new foods, ask these questions:

  • Can my baby hold their head up independently? This is an important developmental milestone for eating solid food.
  • Is my baby interested in eating? Your baby may watch you eat with interest, or even try to grab your food and taste it. When you offer your baby a spoon, they should open their mouth to eat.
  • Can my baby move food to their throat? If you offer food with a spoon, your baby may push it out with their tongue first. This is called the tongue-thrust reflex. With time they will learn to use their tongue to push the food to the back of their mouth and swallow.

Offer a variety. As your baby starts to eat solid foods, they need variety in their diet. This helps ensure your baby is receiving all of the nutrients they need and also helps expand their palate for new tastes. 

Normalize new foods. Once you introduce a new food to your baby and you've confirmed they aren't allergic to it, try to offer it to them again at least twice a week. Not only does this familiarize your baby with new foods, but it can also prevent food allergies. Additionally, when your baby is learning to eat, they watch you. Make sure to offer them the same foods the rest of the family is eating for encouragement.

Consider Allergens. By the time your baby is 12 months old, they should be introduced to each of the common allergenic foods:

  • Cooked egg
  • Creamy peanut butter
  • Cow’s milk (dairy)
  • Tree nuts (such as cashew or almond paste)
  • Soy
  • Sesame
  • Wheat
  • Fish and other seafood

‌By introducing these foods early in life, you can reduce your baby’s chance of developing food allergies.  

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