Frozen waffles. Scrambled eggs. Yogurt. Parents of picky eaters tend to have a few go-to breakfast items they know their child will eat without a fight before starting their day. But is it ok for toddlers to eat yogurt every day? When they won’t eat much else, it may not feel like you have a choice.
Thankfully, experts say it’s really nothing to worry about. In fact, it’s a good thing. Ilyse Schapiro, MS, RDN, a dietitian in private practice in New York and Connecticut, tells Romper that getting their daily servings of dairy is important for toddlers. If yogurt helps them meet their daily quota, all the better.
“It is okay for toddlers to eat yogurt every day, even multiple times per day, as long as there isn’t a milk allergy or lactose intolerance. Toddlers age 12 months and up need two to three servings of dairy per day, and yogurt can contribute to one of those servings,” she explains.
Toddlers should have this many servings of dairy products each day to meet their nutritional needs, according to WebMD, specifically for calcium and vitamin D. Verywell Family described a toddler’s serving size of yogurt as 1/4 to 1/2 cup of yogurt for kiddos around one year old, adding that toddlers should consume about 700 milligrams of calcium each day, and yogurt generally clocks in at around 300 to 450 milligrams per cup.
Schapiro advises parents to steer clear of brightly colored, sugary yogurts marketed toward children. They tend to contain much higher amounts of unhealthy additives than other yogurt aisle options.
“Ideally, get a plain, full-fat Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt has tons of protein, plus calcium,” she says. “There are some brands of yogurt marketed to kids that contain artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, sugar and other additives. Make sure to read labels!”
Of course, Greek yogurt can be a little tart by itself, even for grownups, so what if your child isn’t loving it? Adding in your own natural flavors at home is a great way to spice up your kiddo’s breakfast without opting for overly sweetened and dyed kids’ yogurts.
“You can try it with your toddler plain, or you can add some fruit for flavor, or even add pureed baby food to flavor it,” says Schapiro.
Yogurt also makes a healthier alternative to syrup for dipping pancakes and waffles into for breakfast, and dunking small pieces in and out is great practice for your toddler’s motor skills. Tossing a spoonful or two into a small smoothie can help add calcium into their diets, too. For little ones who can’t eat dairy yogurts, there are plant-based options, like coconut yogurt or fortified soy yogurt.
Ilyse Schapiro, MS, RDN, a dietitian in private practice in New York and Connecticut