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When Can Your Baby Start Eating Dairy Products?

4 min read

You have heard that you should refrain from giving your baby cow’s milk till the age of one. At the same time, you have heard people talk about using milk to cook baby’s recipes even for ones younger than one year. You have also heard smaller babies being given cheese and curd. Confused as to when to introduce dairy products in your baby’s diet? Read on.
baby having yogurt

Why Is It Important To Wait Till One Year To Introduce Cow’s Milk?

There are two main reasons why pediatricians discourage giving cow’s milk before 12 months:

  1. There are certain proteins in cow’s milk that the baby’s digestive system cannot break down
  2. Cow’s milk cannot be a replacement for breastmilk or formula milk in the first year as it does not contain the nutrients (e.g. iron) that the child requires

So it is best to stick to only breastmilk or formula milk in the initial year as the primary source for your children

Can I Use Cow’s Milk For The Preparation Of Baby Food?

Yes, even though you should not give your baby large quantities of cow’s milk as a replacement of breastmilk in the initial year, cow’s milk can be used in small amounts when you prepare various dishes for your baby, like porridge. However, make sure that your baby is not lactose intolerant or is allergic to milk. Follow the same principles as you would when you introduce a new food item to baby’s diet. Some kids also tend to be colicky when cow’s milk is introduced. If you think that your baby has become more restless after you introduced dairy in his diet, consider avoiding it till baby turns one.

When Can I Introduce Yogurt Or Curd To My Baby’s Diet?

Yogurts are also a good source of calcium and active probiotic culture which will help in baby’s digestion. You can give your baby yogurt from as early as six months. Remember the following pointers:

  • Stick to pure natural homemade yogurts
  • Store bought flavored yogurts, especially the ones for kids, are high in sugar and not suitable for babies
  • You can add fruit purees to natural yogurts for flavor and sweetness
  • Do not use honey to make yogurt sweeter (honey cannot be introduced to child’s diet before 1 year)
  • Use full fat milk to prepare the yogurt (as opposed to skimmed milk). This is because the milk fats are good for your baby as it provides high energy and good quantities of vitamin A and D
Why Is It Ok To Have Yogurt When Babies Cannot Have Milk?

For starters, yogurt does not really replace breastmilk or formula milk. Yogurt is just an additional food item given to your baby. So, breastmilk or formula will continue to remain your baby’s primary source of milk.
Secondly, yogurt is always given in small quantities. If cow’s milk is introduced, kids tend to consume larger quantities of cow’s milk and the increased calcium content from the cow’s milk can reduce the absorption of iron. Yogurt on the other hand is never had in such high quantities that it can result in an iron deficiency.
baby with cheese

When Can I Introduce Cheese To My Baby’s Diet?

Just like yogurt, even cheese can be introduced to baby’s diet once he turns 6 months. Remember the following pointers:

  • Always start with soft cheeses which are easy for baby to consume
  • It is always best to introduce cottage cheese to the baby at first
  • You can also start with cheeses that have milder flavors such as American, Jack or Colby cheese as not all kids like the strong salty taste of stronger cheeses
  • Use shredded cheese to avoid dangers of choking
  • If you do not want to use shredded cheese, then melt cheese and spread the resulting cheese sauce on soft bread before offering to the kid
  • Melted cheese can also be used as a topping on the vegetables that you have introduced to your baby
  • Simply use it as a finger food for your baby to munch on
  • Some cheeses are not suitable for kids, especially the ones that are mold ripened. Make sure you read the instructions on the package before offering to your child
What Are The Benefits Of Introducing Dairy Products To My Baby’s Diet?

Although cow’s milk cannot be given to your babies, most of the other dairy products can be introduced to your babies’ diet as they are:

  • Rich in calcium
  • Good source of vitamin A, B-complex and D
  • Contains proteins and good fats

Overall, they are a great source of energy for the little ones. Yogurts or cheeses are the best first dairy products for your baby. But if your baby is lactose intolerant or is allergic to milk or there is a history of food allergies, seasonal allergies, asthma etc. in the family, your pediatrician will advise you to wait a little longer before introducing cheese and yogurt to your baby’s diet. Most babies outgrow their allergies, so it is better to wait and watch. But if your baby does not show any signs of discomfort after consuming dairy products, let him go ahead and enjoy!

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