Giving Yogurt to Babies

A baby girl eating yogurt

Yogurt is amongst the first few food items that can be given to babies. Though mostly curd is made from cow’s milk, it can also be made from buffalo, goat or camel milk. It has immense health benefits for your baby. Here we shall discuss how you may include this superfood in your baby’s diet and avail maximum health benefits from it.

When and Babies Start Eating Yogurt?

A baby eating yogurt

Many paediatricians feel that yogurt can be given to a baby at around seven to eight months of age. On the other hand, some paediatricians feel that yogurt is an ideal first solid food for your baby and can be started at around six months of age. It is recommended that you opt for a full-fat version of yogurt because a baby needs fat for proper growth and development.

Health Benefits of Curd/Yogurt for Babies

Many first-time mommies may wonder, is yogurt good for babies? Some of these benefits are discussed below:

  1. Good for The Immune System: The presence of lactic acid in yoghurt is very effective in building good immune system in babies. Regular consumption of yoghurt removes the disease-causing bacteria (diarrhoea, dysentery etc.) from the stomach.
  1. Beneficial to Gastric Trouble: Lactic acid in yoghurt helps in neutralizing the acid-alkali balance of the body. This helps in keeping stomach irritation and gastric problems at bay.
  1. Treats Insomnia in Babies: Giving yoghurt regularly to your baby helps your baby to sleep better. Apart from this, you may even give a yoghurt massage to your baby to induce sleep.
  1. Effective in treating Diarrhoea: Yogurt not only keeps diarrhoea at bay but it is also effective in treating diarrhoea. It has been proved in a study that babies who were fed yoghurt along with standard diarrhoea treatment recovered faster as compared to babies who only received treatment and no yoghurt.
  1. Loaded with Nutrients: Yogurt is power packed with nutrients and is an ideal food for a growing baby. It contains vitamins A, C, B-6, D, E, K, riboflavin, folate and niacin. The presence of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, sodium and other minerals are beneficial for a baby’s overall development.
  1. Helpful in Treating UTI: Yogurt helps in treating urinary tract infections in babies. The presence of probiotics helps cure the infection and eases the burning sensation while urinating.
  1. Ideal Food for Hepatitis and Jaundice: Both jaundice and hepatitis are liver related ailments which result in the formation of ammonia in the body. Many old and traditional schools of medicines like Ayurveda propagates giving yoghurt to babies during such illnesses.

Nutritional Value of Yogurt

A bowl of yogurt

The chart shows the nutritional value of yoghurt:

Nutrition Amounts per 100 grams Nutrition Amounts per 100 grams
Energy 60 calories Fibre 0 g
Water 88 g Total lipid 3.20 g
Carbohydrates 4 g Calcium 120 mg
Protein 3.5 g Magnesium 12 mg
Sugar 4.5 g Zinc 0.50 mg
Sodium 40 mg Potassium 150 mg
Iron 0.05 mg Thiamine 0.030 mg
Phosphorus 94 mg Folate 7 ug
Vitamin C 0.5 mg Vitamin A 98 ug
Riboflavin 0.140 mg Vitamin D 0.1 ug
Vitamin B-6 0.030 mg Niacin 0.070 mg
Vitamin B-12 0.35 mg
Vitamin E 0.05 mg
Vitamin K 0.2 ug

The above-mentioned values are the approximate values of various vitamins and minerals present in 100 grams of yoghurt.

Why Plain and Unsweetened Yogurt is Better for Infants?

Usually, all flavoured varieties of yoghurt available in the market are sweetened. Sugar is not good for a growing baby as it may cause tooth decay and weight issues in babies. You may wonder how to check the amount of sugar in yoghurt as yoghurt also has some natural sugar present in it. Therefore, you should look for word sugar or its substitutes such as cane sugar, sucrose, fructose etc. in the nutrition information section on the label. Yoghurt made from full-fat milk should be given to the babies as it is required for baby’s growth.

How can you Make Plain Yogurt Taste Better?

Though plain yoghurt is really good if you wish to add some twist to it, you may do so. If you are giving yoghurt to younger babies, you may add fruit or vegetable purees to make flavoured yoghurt for babies. However, if your baby can chew, you may add soft fruit or vegetable pieces to the yoghurt to make it more interesting for your baby. The flavoured yoghurt recipes for babies may include apples, bananas, strawberries, avocado, wheat germ or oatmeal to the yoghurt. However, you should refrain from adding honey to flavour the yoghurt until your baby turns one.

What are Probiotics and why they are Good for Infants?

Yoghurt may contain probiotics in it, which is very beneficial for your baby’s health. The live cultures or probiotics, which is used for making yoghurt from milk, helps in growing good bacteria in your baby’s gut. However, not all varieties of yoghurt contain probiotics or live cultures in it. Then the question arises how you can establish that a particular brand of yoghurt has good bacteria in it or not. Though there is no sure shot way of establishing the same, you may look for the information on the label.

What to do if your Baby is Allergic to Milk or is Lactose Intolerant?

If your baby is allergic to milk or is lactose intolerant, it is recommended that you do not give yoghurt to your baby without consulting it with your doctor. However, if you are not sure whether yoghurt or any milk product caused the allergic reaction in your baby, you should wait for at least three days before giving it again. This way you will be able to know better if it was yoghurt or any other food item that caused the allergic reaction.

The allergic reaction may cause red itchy spots, swelling around the mouth or vomiting. These symptoms may occur within two to three hours after introducing food.

Though lactose intolerance is not that common in babies, and even if your baby has it, you may give yoghurt to your baby. This is because the yoghurt making process breaks down the much of lactose from the milk making it easily tolerated by babies.

Why is Cow’s Milk Not Recommended for Babies, but Yogurt is?

You may have heard, or you may have been recommended by many people to give yoghurt made from cow’s milk but not the milk to your baby, until one year of age. This is because it is difficult for babies to digest cow’s milk in comparison to breast milk or formula milk. Also, cow’s milk lacks essential nutrients and fats that a baby gets from breast or formula milk.

Measures to Take while Giving Yogurt to Infants

You may take following measures before giving yoghurt to infants:

  • Try to Give Homemade Yogurt: It is best to give homemade yoghurt to your baby. It is very easy to make. All you need is warm, full-fat milk and a teaspoon of yoghurt for fermentation.
  • Give Full Fat Yogurt: It is suggested to give full-fat milk yoghurt to your baby until advised against it by your doctor. In that case, you may give skimmed milk yoghurt to your baby.
  • Storing Yogurt: Yogurt may turn sore soon. Therefore it is best to store it in a cool place or under refrigeration.
  • Give Unsweetened Yogurt to Your Baby: Do not add sugar or honey to your baby’s yoghurt. You may add fruits or vegetables to flavour it,
  • Optimum Temperatures: It is easy to set yoghurt in summers, but it may get tricky during the winter time. You may warm milk up to 50-55 degrees before fermenting it.
  • Stick to Plain Yogurt: Do not give yoghurt with berries in it as it may cause an allergic reaction in babies. Instead, opt for plain yoghurt.
  • Add Fruits for Flavour: You may add banana or mango puree to flavour the yoghurt for your baby.

Steps to Make Yogurt at Home

It is best to give homemade yoghurt to babies, and this is how you can make yoghurt for babies under 1 at home:

Ingredients

  • Half a litre milk
  • ¼ cup yoghurt (the plain variety)

Method

  • Take milk in a heavy bottomed pan and boil it.
  • Once the milk boils, take off the flame and shift it in a dish.
  • Once it gets to room temperature, add yoghurt to the dish.
  • Leave it undisturbed for 7-8 hours.
  • Once it is set, keep it in the fridge.

So, while cow’s milk is not a good idea for babies, you can always go for yoghurt. Just make sure that you get the unflavoured variety to avoid any dental issues.