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Cheese for Babies: Health Benefits, Recipes & Precautions

Medically Reviewed By
Archana Shah (Diabetologist/Nutritionist/Dietitian)
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Cheese not only tastes great but is also nutritious and loaded with essentials such as proteins, calories, and vitamins A, D, and B12. As a parent, you may wonder what the right time to introduce cheese in your baby’s diet should be. It’s always best to take your time with introducing dairy products, so your little one’s system can properly digest them. However, as your baby grows older, you might want to add cheese to his diet for its taste and nutritional value. Continue reading for all the information you need to know about safely introducing your baby to cheese.

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Video: Introducing Cheese to Babies – When, How and Benefits

When Can a Baby Eat Cheese?

Most babies can be offered cheese as soon as they start chewing or gumming different foods. This usually begins around 6 to 9 months. Depending on where you are in the world, experts differ in opinion on when is good time to start feeding cheese to babies. Some suggest waiting till the baby is eight months of age, and some say it should be given after the baby is a year old.

The hesitation is because cheese is a dairy product, and the milk proteins present in cheese are known to cause stomach issues in babies younger than year old. However, some argue that milk proteins break down as the cheese matures and don’t cause any problems. On the other hand, some babies could be allergic to milk and dairy products. Therefore, such children should only be given cheese after discussing with their paediatrician.

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What Amount Of Cheese is Recommended For Babies?

When introducing any new food to your child, it’s always best to stick to small quantities so you can detect any allergies or intolerances without causing any harm. Start with 30-40 grams of cheese, making sure it is cut into small pieces to prevent choking. If your baby likes the taste and seems to easily digest it, you can slowly increase the quantity over the following weeks.

Health Benefits of Cheese for Babies

If your question is ‘is cheese good for babies?’ the answer is yes. Cheese is delicious as well as easy to incorporate into a wide variety of foods. Not only will your baby eat it without a fuss, but he will also get plenty of health benefits from cheese. Some of them are as follows:

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  1. Cheese is rich in calcium, which is needed for the development of healthy teeth and bones.
  2. Cheese is rich in protein and nutrients such as Vitamin D needed for building the body.
  3. Vegetarian families benefit a lot from cheese as it is rich in Vitamin B12 and protein, which are otherwise abundantly found in meat.
  4. Cheese is loaded with calories that will keep your baby supplied with all the energy he needs throughout the day.
  5. Cheese is good for teeth and is known to prevent tooth decay.
  6. Certain types of cheese, such as cottage cheese contain a host of nutrients and healthy fats which help your baby stay healthy.

List of Safe and Unsafe Cheeses for Infants

There are different varieties of cheese to choose from when you’re looking for the ones you can feed your baby. However, not all cheeses are suitable for babies; especially, cheeses made from unpasteurised milk must be avoided altogether.

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1. Safe cheeses for infants

Parents have to be really careful when choosing dairy products such as cheese as it certain cheeses carry listeria, which is a bacterium that can cause food borne infections that can be fatal to babies. Therefore, it is advisable to consume cheese made out of pasteurised milk.

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For those wondering what kind of cheese can a baby eat, here is a list:

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  • Cheddar
  • Edam
  • Parmesan
  • Colby
  • Colby jack
  • Mozzarella
  • Swiss
  • Romano
  • Monetary jack
  • Paneer
  • Babybel
  • Red Leicester
  • Provolone
  • Jarlsberg
  • Cheshire
  • Lancashire
  • Gouda
  • Grana Padano

Here is a list of soft cheese for babies which most people avoid. However, they are perfectly okay for babies to have:

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  • Cottage Cheese
  • Mascarpone
  • Ricotta
  • Cream Cheese
  • Cheese spreads that are made out of real cheese.

2. Cheeses that should be avoided until the baby is a year old

Here is a list of cheeses you should avoid giving to your baby till he is a year old as they are often made out of raw or unpasteurised milk:

  • Camembert
  • Brie
  • Chevre
  • Queso Fresco
  • Queso Blanco
  • Stilton
  • Danish Blue
  • Saga
  • Gorgonzola
  • Wensleydale
  • Roquefort

3. Avoid processed cheese

Processed cheese is not a pure form of cheese. Although it may look and taste like cheese, it is usually loaded with added flavours and emulsifiers. They are manufactured by adding flavour enhancers and preservatives to cheese to make it last longer. Therefore, try not to buy any off-the-shelf processed cheese to feed your baby as the chemicals present in it is not suitable for him. Look for natural cheeses in organic stores that are made out of natural ingredients.

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How To Buy And Store Cheese?

As cheese is a dairy product, it’s important to take certain precautions when buying and storing it. Here are some points to keep in mind when you buy cheese and store it at home.

1) Buying Cheese

If you’re wondering how to buy cheese that is healthy and safe for your little one, we’ve got you covered. The below points will help you make the best choice.

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  1. You know know if your selected cheese is safe for babies when selecting the brand and type of cheese.
  2. Always check the expiry date on the packet.
  3. Inspect the cheese for mould or discolourations.

2) Storing Cheese

Once you’ve bought the cheese of your choice, there are certain precautions needed when storing it, especially if the packet has been opened. Keep the below points in mind when storing cheese.

  1. Always store cheese at the back of your refrigerator or in the vegetable compartment, where the temperature is cold and more stable.
  2. Place the cheese in a re-sealable container or parchment wrap, ensuring there is no contact with air. Avoid using plastic wrap to cover the cheese.
  3. For softer cheeses that are stored in brine, such as cottage cheese, make sure you replace the brine if it gets contaminated with a dirty spoon or your hands.
  4. Brush a layer of oil on any cut areas of the cheese to prevent moulding.

How To Introduce Cheese To Babies?

When you decide to introduce cheese to your baby, there are a few good ways to go about it. Remember to start with only those cheeses that have a mild taste. Sharp-tasting cheeses might taste repulsive and make the baby dislike it immediately. Here are a few methods to start with:

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1. Melt cheese

Melt cheese over a bit of bread or crackers to feed it to him as a snack.

2. Cut Cheese into Bits

Give him tiny bits of cheese that are small enough for him to pick up. Make sure the pieces are small to avoid the risk of choking.

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3. Mix with Vegetables

Melt some cheese over diced vegetables and wait for it to dry. Let it be in small bits easy enough to pick up.

4. With Eggs

Add a little cheese to scrambled eggs while preparing it.

5. With Pastas

Cream cheese for a baby can be started with pasta. It spreads well and tastes great.

Precautions To Take While Feeding Cheese To Babies

Like with any other new food that you introduce your baby to, cheese also carries a risk of allergy. Check out these precautions before you start:

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1. Observe carefully

An allergic reaction can start as early as 20 minutes or within the first few hours. Look for symptoms such as swollen lips, redness in the eyes and face, and rashes on the skin; these are indicators of an allergic reaction. If your baby is lactose intolerant, you might see him experiencing gastric issues, stomach cramps, and diarrhoea.

2. Consult the paediatrician

If your baby is known to have allergies to dairy products or has eczema or asthma, talk to the paediatrician about feeding cheese and only do it if they permit.

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3. Try different cheeses

You baby might develop a taste for one cheese and dislike the others. Therefore, if he doesn’t like any of the cheeses that you’re giving him, all is not lost. Keep trying different varieties of cheese.

Delicious Cheese Recipes for Babies

The best thing about cheese is how easily it can be incorporated into different foods that you can easily prepare. Here are some delicious cheese recipes for babies:

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1. Cheese Omelette

Eggs and cheese are a yummy combination. To increase its nutrient quotient, add minced vegetables that your baby can easily swallow and digest.

What you will need:

  • One Egg
  • One teaspoon of milk or water
  • One tablespoon of shredded cheese
  • One teaspoon butter or oil

How to make:

  1. Whisk the milk and egg together in a bowl.
  2. Set the pan to medium heat and melt the butter on it. Once it stops bubbling, pour the egg mixture in the pan.
  3. Spread the mixture evenly over the pan.
  4. Let it cook until the mixture holds together like an omelette.
  5. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the omelette and fold it in half.
  6. Cook for another 30 seconds.
  7. Cut it into bite-sized bits and serve.

2. Cheese Rice

If you have already introduced your baby to rice, it’s time to make it tastier.

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What you will need:

  • Two tablespoons of baby rice
  • 2 carrots
  • 100 grams of cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon of grated cheddar cheese

How to make:

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  1. Get the vegetables ready. Wash, peel, and slice them.
  2. Boil the vegetables together until they are tender.
  3. Save the water after you strain the vegetables. You’ll need about 60 ml of it to blend the vegetables.
  4. Pour the rice into it along with the cheese and cook.
  5. Stir the mixture until the cheese melts.
  6. Serve warm.

3. Cheesy Pasta

Pasta is delicious, throw in a bit of cheese, and your baby will love it.

What you will need:

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  • 1 cup of cooked pasta
  • Half a cup of chopped soft-cooked or pureed carrots
  • Grated cheese that your baby likes

How to make:

  1. Mix the chopped carrots with pasta.
  2. Sprinkle grated cheese on top.
  3. Serve warm.

4. Cheesy Fruit Dip

This cream cheese-based fruit dip is super easy to make and your baby will love dipping his favourite fruits into it.

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What you will need:

  • 1/2 cup of cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp of brown sugar or honey
  • 1/2 cup of fresh cream
  • Assorted fruits cut into pieces

How to make:

  1. Add the cream cheese, fresh cream, and brown sugar in a blender.
  2. Blend until it comes together and is smooth in texture.
  3. Place in a refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.
  4. Serve to your baby with assorted fruit pieces.

FAQs

1. Is Cheese a Choking Hazard In Babies?

If served as is, cheese can be a choking hazard for babies. Hence, make sure you thinly slice or grate the cheese before feeding your little one to ensure his safety.

2. Can I Give Cheese To My Baby Every Day?

Yes, you can feed your child cheese daily, but with certain precautions in mind. Make sure the cheese is safe for your baby and does not exceed 30-40 grams in weight. You can also pick healthy types of cheese, such as cottage cheese to ensure maximum nutrition from this food.

3. Is Cheese Too Salty For My Baby?

If you stick to a daily limit, you can safely feed your baby cheese. There are also several varieties of cheese that contain lesser salt, which are healthier for your baby, so make sure you explore the options available.

Cheese is an excellent addition to your baby’s food. Experiment with different types to figure out what he likes. Include the different kinds of cheese in his diet to expand his taste palette and gain the healthy nutrients that cheese has to offer. Remember to consult your doctor before introducing your baby to solid foods, especially cheese, and always check for allergies before including cheese in your baby’s diet.

References/Resources:

1. Foods to avoid giving babies and young children; NHS; https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/weaning-and-feeding/foods-to-avoid-giving-babies-and-young-children/; August 2022

2. When, What, and How to Introduce Solid Foods; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/when-to-introduce-solid-foods.html; June 2023

3. Milk Allergy; Cleveland Clinic; https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/11315-milk-allergy; November 2022

4. Brill. H; Approach to milk protein allergy in infants; PubMed Central; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2553152/; September 2008

5. Nakamura. M, Hamazaki. K, Matsumara. K; Infant dietary intake of yogurt and cheese and gastroenteritis at 1 year of age: The Japan Environment and Children’s Study; PubMed; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31589650/; October 2019

Also Read: 

Cabbage for Babies
Greek Yogurt for Infant
Can Babies Have Pickles

This post was last modified on July 12, 2023 8:16 pm

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