Dairy Products for Babies – Health Benefits and More

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Megha Mukhija(Paediatric Nutritionist)
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Dairy Products for Babies - Health Benefits and More

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Once your baby turns six months of age and starts eating solids, you will want to know when (and if) can you include dairy products, such as cow milk, yoghurt, or cheese, in their diet. Dairy products are a great source of calcium, which is important for the healthy development of bones. So naturally, you will want to add dairy products to your baby’s diet along with giving him breast milk or formula milk.

When Can Babies Have Which Dairy Products?

Read on to learn which dairy products you can add to your baby’s diet, and when!

1. Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk is usually not recommended to a baby under 1 year of age. Some babies are prone to allergies, and cow’s milk is known to cause dehydration and iron deficiencies, which is why it’s best to wait until the baby turns 1 year of age before giving him cow’s milk.

Once your baby turns 1 year of age, you can give him cow milk in small quantities for a couple of days, and watch out for any signs of allergy. If your baby doesn’t show any signs of allergy and your family doesn’t have a medical history of allergies, then you may consider giving him homogenized milk.

2. Yoghurt

Yoghurt is an excellent source of Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D, protein, calcium, potassium, and fat. Fat helps in brain development and the growth of bones and tissues, and yoghurt is a great source of fat. If you’re looking to include yoghurt in your baby’s diet, opt for a whole-milk variant. Choose naturally sweetened plain yoghurt over artificially sweetened yoghurt for your baby (and for you!). You can feed yoghurt to your baby in small quantities after 8 months of age.

3. Cheese

You can give pasteurised cheese or cottage cheese to your little one once he reaches eight months of age and after making sure that your child is not lactose intolerant. Add it to fruits, salads, meat and vegetables or even make it into delicious mini sandwiches. Check the nutrition label for low-salt content when buying the type of cheese.

Dairy products

In What Quantity Can Dairy Products Be Given to Babies?

According to the US Department of Agriculture, children between the age of two and three years are recommended to consume 480ml (16 ounces) of dairy products daily for their good health. But dairy products should be supplementary and not a substitute for replacing breast milk or formulae. Here are the most common recommended dairy products for babies-

1. Whole Milk

Whole milk is a good source of calcium, vitamin A and D for your little one.

Recommended Quantity: Whole milk consumption for infants between 1 and 2 years of age should not exceed any more than 24 ounces a day

Tips

  • Use whole-fat milk when feeding your baby.
  • Avoid cow’s milk since it’s indigestible at this age.

2. Yoghurt

Yoghurt contains active enzymes which aid in digestion and goes down easily in the stomach, especially plain old natural yoghurt.

Recommended Quantity: We recommend giving your little one 8 ounces of yoghurt a day.

Tips

  • Avoid artificially sweetened yoghurts since they’re loaded with sugar.
  • Make your own yoghurts at home and serve fresh.
  • Do not add honey to yoghurts and use fruits for adding natural sweetness.

3. Cheese

Cheese is an excellent source of Vitamin D and B12. Give some cheese to your baby for a tasty treat!

Recommended Quantity: Half an ounce of cheese a day will give your little one the recommended dosage of nutrients for his growth and development.

Tips

  • Use shredded cheese or melted cheese to prevent your little one from choking.
  • Opt for cottage cheese as it’s healthy and a great source of protein.

Baby eating cheese

What Are the Health Benefits of Dairy Products for Infants?

The following are the health benefits of dairy products for infants-

  • Dairy products being a good source of calcium helps develop strong and healthy bones.
  • As dairy products are a good source of Vitamin B12, it helps with cognitive development in a child.
  • Dairy products also provide protein, which is a source of energy for the body and aids in the growth and development of organs and tissues.
  • Your little one may not be taking in enough calories for growth and energy. Taking a little bit of dairy goes a long way in preventing fatigue and promoting proper joint and organ development.

What If Your Baby is Allergic to Dairy?

If your baby is allergic to dairy, then you may notice the following symptoms of dairy allergy in breastfed babies:

Things to Remember Before Introducing Dairy Products to a Baby

  • Check your family’s medical history – Does your family have a medical history of lactose intolerance? If so, it may be a good idea to wait till your little one turns 12 months before adding dairy to their diet.
  • Avoid Cow’s Milk – Babies are not able to digest cow milk and it may also lead to dehydration and iron deficiencies. So go for homogenized or pasteurized milk, instead. Switch to low-fat versions after a while.
  • Do Not Stop Breastfeeding – Your little one gets his main dose of nutrients from your breast milk. All those excess nutrients come in handy as his organs develop and bones start taking shape. Dairy products should serve as a supplement to breast milk and nutritional diets, and not as a substitute for them.
  • Consult a Paediatrician – If your little one shows any signs of loss in appetite or lactose intolerance, then consult a paediatrician.

If your little one is allergic to dairy products or gets fussy when being fed, then make sure to consult a paediatrician and wait a few more months before introducing them to the wonders and flavours of natural dairy products.

Also Read: Introducing Cheese to Babies

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