Can I Give My Baby Greek Yogurt?

greek yogurtIntroducing dairy products, including Greek yogurt, is one of the biggest sources of confusion for parents. There is a great deal of conflicting advice and a general “no dairy until 1 year” rule advised by pediatricians. What many people neglect to tell new parents is that this rule is generally targeted to whole milk.  Cow’s milk does not have enough of the nutrients to properly sustain your infant’s growth.

Can I Give My Baby Greek Yogurt? Answer: Yes, at 6 Months

Greek yoghurt can be part of a healthy diet for your baby, its low in calories and packed with calcium and bacterial cultures.

How Is Greek Yoghurt Made?

Yogurt comes from milk that has had healthy bacteria added, causing it to ferment. This process makes yogurt thicken and gives it a tangy taste. After it ferments, the yogurt gets strained through cheesecloth.

While regular yogurt gets strained through the cheesecloth twice, Greek yogurt is done three times. Giving Greek yogurt the extra round of straining removes more whey. Less whey makes Greek yogurt thicker and can also allow children suffering from milk intolerance to consume it.

Nutritional Value Of Greek Yoghurt

First, both Greek yogurt and regular yogurt can be part of a healthy diet. With the same amount of calories, Greek yogurt is healthier than regular yogurt because it contains double the protein and cuts the sugar in half. Greek yogurt is high in protein, which promotes fullness. And while it is low in sodium, it does contain a lot of fat.

Babies can be introduced to yogurt, whether regular or Greek, around six months of age. If you know that your baby is allergic to milk or suffers from intolerance, you should wait until after your baby’s first birthday before giving them yogurt.

No Added Flavors

Give your baby plain Greek yoghurt. This will cut back on your child’s sugar intake and it will let you make your own natural flavors by adding pureed fruit. You can try adding blended blueberries, banana, apple, pear or even a vegetable mix to their yogurt.

How To Include Greek Yoghurt In Your Baby’s Diet

Serve plain yogurt to your baby initially. However, if your does not like the taste, you can try adding pureed fruit to the yoghurt. Do not use honey to sweeten your baby’s yogurt. Honey is not safe for children under twelve months old. After the initial feeding, you can choose fruit flavored yogurts which are readily available in your local grocery store or market.

The age for introducing Greek yogurt to a baby’s diet does vary, but six to eight months is the recommended age. Many medical professionals recommend yogurt as a great introductory food as your baby starts on solids.

Allergic Reaction To Greek Yogurt

If you decide to give your baby a fruit-flavored yogurt, make sure you use a fruit that your baby has already eaten. If your child has any reaction to the fruit flavored yogurt, such as a rash, you will know it was the yogurt that caused it and not the fruit. A rash that develops around the mouth can be a sign of milk intolerance.

Only introduce a little yogurt to your baby at first. Like with any food, yogurt should be introduced to your baby at the right time. After the initial introduction, watch for signs of a food allergy. It is recommended to wait at least three days before introducing another “new” food to your child. Typical signs of an allergic reaction can include swelling, cramping, rash, diarrhea or vomiting. If your child has allergy symptoms seek medical advice.

Health Benefits Of Greek Yogurt

In order for healthy development, your baby should take in the fat calories provided by whole dairy products until they are two years old. Pasteurized whole milk yogurts and dairy products are better for your baby than those that are reduced fat or fat free. It is also best to give your child plain yogurt instead of ones that have been naturally sweetened. Greek yoghurt is naturally less sweet than the commercial yogurts available.

Yogurt is also great for your child’s digestive tract. It is said that babies who regularly consume yogurt do not have diarrhea as often as those who do not eat yogurt. Yogurt contains good bacteria, and this good bacteria keeps bad bacteria from forming in your baby’s digestive tract.

Whole Milk Vs Greek Yogurt

Parents often wonder why it is okay for their six month old to have yogurt but not milk since they are both dairy products. Babies can have yogurt because it contains active bacterial cultures that break down quicker and easier than those found in milk. This quick and easy break down allows your child to digest yogurt easier than milk.

Until they are approximately one year, it is recommended by pediatricians that babies receive breast milk or formula as their primary source of fluid. This advice is not always practical for every parent, but parents should take care to avoid introducing whole cow’s milk too early to their toddler. Whole cow’s milk has inadequate levels of vitamins and essential fatty acids. It can also be too high in protein, sodium and potassium for an infant’s digestive system to tolerate. Cow’s milk has also been known to impede your child’s absorption of iron.

Remember, Greek yogurt technically has the healthier edge over regular yogurt, but its thicker consistency may not go over well with your baby. Also, while it is healthy, it does contain a lot more fat than regular yogurt, and it is more expensive.

If you have questions about feeding Greek yogurt to your baby, it is best to consult with your child’s physician. He or she will be able to discuss your concerns more thoroughly.

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