Yogurt is one of those fun things you get to add to your babies' growing diet because it’s soft (no stressful choking thoughts) and it’s cold. So it’s an interesting new dynamic for exploring and curious babies — and less gross looking than all of those smashed peas. There are also the nutritional benefits of probiotics that make yogurt a great food for babies, and Greek yogurt for babies is an option to consider.
One practical reason to give your baby Greek yogurt when starting the transition to solids: it’s super thick, and that means they may really enjoy the texture and feel of it, and that also makes it a little harder to throw across the room. It’s also a great plain option rather than introducing them to sweetened yogurt. But while babies are slowly being introduced to this side of food, there are still some things to keep in mind. Like is Greek yogurt safe for babies, or should you stick with other versions?
Can Babies Have Greek Yogurt?
“Yes,” says Nicole Lattanzio, pediatric dietician at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. “Greek yogurt is a safe option for infants who have started complementary foods. We want to choose a plain full-fat version for baby in order to avoid added sugars and to offer healthy fats.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends six months as the age for transitioning your baby to solid foods, and that’s when the messy meals really begin. “When a baby is ready to eat these foods, yogurt can be an appropriate food to offer,” Lattanzio says. But their meals should still include formula or breast milk until they are a year old, which is why they shouldn’t be drinking any cow’s milk yet. However, yogurt is considered safe because it is fermented, which means the substance is broken down and easier to digest.
But Greek yogurt is different.
How Is Greek Yogurt For Babies Different?
Basically, Greek yogurt is made differently than regular yogurt. The production of regular yogurt consists of heating milk, adding bacteria, and letting it ferment. On the other hand, Greek yogurt is strained and takes much more milk than regular yogurt. Ever heard of whey? Whey is a primary protein found in dairy products, and it’s the liquid that remains after milk has been curdled and strained. The strenuous steps to strain and thicken Greek yogurt eliminate the whey.
“What you are left with is a casein-based yogurt which is thicker. Casein protein takes longer to digest,” Lattanzio says.
Is Greek Yogurt Safe For Your Baby?
Many see it as a healthier option because it has less sugar. But Lattanzio doesn’t necessarily consider it a healthier option for infants because Greek yogurt is high in protein, “which is safe, but is actually unnecessary for babies.” Based on total grams per day, an 8-month-old baby would only need 15 grams. “Some of the Greek yogurts provide that amount in just one container” so it’s important to watch for protein content if you’re considering adding this to their meals.
Ultimately, your baby can enjoy a yummy bowl of Greek yogurt within reason. But whichever yogurt you choose to give them, try and stick with those made from whole milk and unsweetened. This ensures your growing little one is getting plenty of nutrients they need to keep sprouting.
“When it comes to choosing Greek versus regular yogurt, I advise families to choose that which is culturally appropriate for them. Offering a variety for exposure to different flavor profiles, textures, and nutrients is a great approach, too,” says Lattanzio.
Nicole Lattanzio, RD, CNSC, CSP, IBCLC, and pediatric dietician at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona.