As a mother who did baby led weaning my baby, I was always looking for ways to introduce new foods and keep it fun. One way that was very successful with my little one is yogurt for baby led weaning. Yogurt provides the perfect amount of sugar and protein to get your growing child’s digestive system off to a good start!
So, let me offer some suggestions on how to offer your little one yogurt, how to choose the best yogurt and how to flavor it for your baby’s liking.
Yogurt as a First Food for your Baby
Yogurt is a great first food for your baby. It is filled with helpful digestive enzymes that are crucial in the development of your child’s immune system. Yogurt also has live, active cultures in it which aid in developing your baby’s microbiome in the early stages of life, when their immune system is being developed.
Because of yogurt’s high levels of calcium and phosphorus, it is an excellent source for babies’ developing bones, and the high protein and fat content support babies’ rapid growth.
Although yogurt is made from cow’s milk, it is made via fermentation, This means that the proteins are broken down into smaller compounds that are easier to digest, in comparison with whole milk. These proteins are then reformed into new proteins, making yogurt much easier for your baby’s tummy to handle!
At What Age Can Babies Have Yogurt?
The World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend introducing solids when your little one is 6 months old. This is the point at which your baby’s digestive system has developed to the point that they can handle new foods.
Some sources recommend delaying this due to food allergies, but with proper gut development and low-reactivity foods being introduced first, you run a lower risk of introducing food allergies.
At 6 months old, your baby is ready to begin exploring the world of new tastes and flavours!
To find out more about the signs of readiness to start weaning, check out this article, “What Age Can you Start Baby Led Weaning?”
Yogurt for Baby Led Weaning
Once your little one has been introduced to solid foods, plain yogurt makes a great addition to their diet! If you are doing baby led weaning with your young child, there are a few things you will need to know about introducing yogurt with this method of feeding.
First, baby led weaning means that your child will self-feed the food to themselves. So, it is okay if they don’t eat all of the yogurt offered, and it is okay if they drag it across their tray and make a big mess!
Also, yogurt can be offered on its own, or as a smoothie. Once your little one has mastered eating solid food, you can even allow them to dip their pieces of fruit and veggie into their yogurt. However, if you choose to offer it this way, be sure that the fruit and veggies are soft enough for your baby to chew on!
What is the Best Yogurt for Baby Led Weaning?
Now that you know a little about yogurt for baby led weaning, how do you choose the best brand?
Not all yogurts are created equal. Many baby yogurt brands marketed for babies and toddler are often laden with added sugars and artificial sweeteners.
Not only that, but the fat content on the yogurt is also important. Low fat yogurt tends to be higher in added sugar than full fat whole milk yogurt and your baby would benefit from the healthy fat in yogurt.
Having said that, when you are perusing the yogurt aisle, what yogurt is best for babies and toddlers?
Greek yogurt is a great option for your little one. Not only is it high in protein, but it has live active cultures that are great for your baby’s microbiome.
You can add some additional flavor to the yogurt by adding a mashed banana or fruit puree. However, you do want to avoid getting your baby too accustomed to sweet foods so just plain full fat yogurt will also be fine.
When choosing yogurt for your little one, it is also important to look at the nutritional value of yogurts.
How do you serve yogurt for baby led weaning?
Although yogurt is a great food to introduce your little one to, it is a bit tricky in that it is messy. So, with that in mind, here are some suggestions on how to serve yogurt to your little one.
Preload a spoon for your Baby
Babies and toddlers need not have developed great spoon skills to be able to eat yogurt. You can always dip the spoon into the yogurt and “pre-load” it. You can then offer the spoon to your little one.
This way, your baby is focusing on one movement – bringing the spoon to their mouth – and they don’t need to have the fine motor skills to load the spoon first.
As your little one’s fine motor skills further develop, they can practice loading the spoon themselves.
You can also spoon feed your little one.
Serve Yogurt For Babies as a Dip
This is a similar concept to preloading the spoon but you can also dip fruit or vegetables into the yogurt before serving.
Be sure that whatever is being dipped in the yogurt – be it fruit or veggies, or even an ice cube – is soft enough for your baby to chew on. Remember, they are just learning how to eat!
Serving Yogurt to your Baby as a Popsicle
Another way to introduce yogurt for babies is through serving it as a popsicle.
The Nuby popsicle molds are a great option for little hands and they have a “lip” to catch any messy drips and spills.
You can find the popsicle molds here.
Is there a difference between baby yogurt and regular yogurt?
Baby yogurts tend to be made with organic fully fat whole cow’s milk. Adult yogurts are not necessarily made with organic cow’s milk and it is often made with a lower fat milk.
Also, babies yogurt tends to have fewer preservatives and added sugars when compared with adult yogurts. Baby yogurt is often unsweetened yogurt while adults often have a variety of sweetened yogurt.
Is Activia yogurt good for babies?
Activia is marketed as one of the probiotic rich foods but the truth is that most yogurts contain beneficial bacterias and probiotics.
In addition to this, one small pack of Activia low fat probiotic yogurt has 15g of sugar – the equivalent of 3 teaspoons of sugar per serving.
So, Activia every now and then is not going to cause harm to your baby but there are probably better options for your baby.
Having said that, Dr Daniel Merenstein, director of research in the department of family medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, in Washington, D.C, says that probiotic foods such as Activia yogurt are generally safe for young children.
Can a baby eat too much yogurt?
It is very difficult for your baby to eat too much yogurt and become unwell as a result. However, when you offer yogurt, you are not offering other food.
In other words, offering yogurt on a daily basis or even more frequently means that your baby is not necessarily being exposed to a variety of foods.
The more variety of foods your little one will eat, the more diverse their nutrient intake will be and the more likely your baby is to get all of the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy.
Can I warm up yogurt for baby?
If the yogurt has just come out the fridge, you may be tempted to warm it up before serving it to your little one.
Although some sources say that you can warm up yogurt for baby, I would advise against doing so.
Warming up milk – whether it be breast milk or formula milk – or yogurt is not recommended as the heat destroys beneficial enzymes and probiotics in the milk or yogurt.
Also, heating yogurt can cause it to separate, except in the case of greek yogurt.
How do I make yogurt taste better for my baby?
We have already said that plain organic yogurt is a wonderful option for your baby. However, you may want to add just a little bit more flavor to the yogurt to make it more appealing.
There are a number of ways to do this:
- Add a small amount of organic pureed fruit to the greek yogurt. You could try mango, peach, or even strawberries.
- Mix in a little bit of organic honey. Just remember that honey should not be given to children under 1 year old.
- Add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg to the yogurt.
- If you are using a flavored yogurt, such as strawberry or blueberry, make sure to check the ingredient list.
Some of these yogurts have added sugars and other ingredients that you may not want your baby to consume.
How do I know if my baby is allergic to yogurt?
The most common symptom of a milk yogurt allergy is diarrhea. If your baby has loose stools or watery diarrhea after eating yogurt, it is best to consult with your pediatrician.
Other symptoms of a yogurt allergy can include:
- pain and swelling in the tummy
- failure to settle at feeding times, coming on and off the breast
- failure to gain weight
- bulky, frothy and watery faeces
- red bottom with skin worn away in places
- passing wind and crying when passing faeces
If your baby experiences any of these symptoms after eating yogurt, it is best to seek medical attention immediately.
If your baby is indeed allergic to yogurt, they may well have lactose intolerance or milk allergy and dairy free yogurts should be considered as an alternative to traditional yogurt varieties.
Summing it Up
Plain Greek yogurt is a great option for your little one and it can be easily flavoured to suit their tastes. It can also be served in a number of ways, including as a dip, in smoothies, or even frozen into popsicles! What is your baby’s favourite kind of yogurt? Leave a comment and let me know!