Yogurt for Baby
Yogurt is a yummy first food for kiddos and baby. Produced by the bacterial fermentation of cow's milk, yogurt is full of beneficial probiotics that help improve digestion and constipation and help keep our gut in good working order. Yogurt is also high in protein and calcium, helping bones and teeth stay healthy and strong. Yogurt has also been shown to help improve blood sugar control (the plain variety, not the sweetened) and helps reduce total cholesterol levels while increasing our "good" HDL cholesterol. Not only will kiddo and baby enjoy the many health benefits of consuming yogurt, they will also love the tangy, sweet flavor it offers to many of their favorite purees and snack foods!
Highlighted Nutritional Importance of Yogurt
Riboflavin - also known as Vitamin B2, riboflavin promotes steady growth, good vision and healthy skin
Vitamin B12 - helps to keep nerves and red blood cells healthy and helps improve cognitive function
Vitamin B5 - also known as pantothenic acid, this B vitamin is essential for the production of hormones and cholesterol and for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins
Thiamin - this B vitamin is essential for baby's brain development and aids in the normal functioning of the nervous system and heart
Vitamin A - crucial for healthy bones, skin and eyes and helps support the immune system
Calcium - crucial for building healthy bones and teeth
Phosphorus - another mineral that is very important for a healthy skeletal system and teeth
Zinc - helps balance hormones and keep our immune system strong and healthy
Magnesium - this important mineral keeps bones strong, the heart rhythm steady and supports the immune system
Selenium - a trace mineral (needed in very small amounts), selenium supports the immune system and healthy thyroid function
When Can I Give my Baby Yogurt?
There's a lot of debate out there regarding when you can give baby certain dairy products. Most pediatricians recommend introducing whole milk yogurt around 7-8 months, and some even say it's a great first food for baby (6+ months). Since yogurt is a fermented product, a lot of the lactose (the protein in cows milk that gives some people gas and an upset stomach) is pre-digested due to the fermentation process, making it easier on sensitive tummies. This is also one of the reasons why yogurt and cheese are generally considered "safer" for baby at a younger age than regular, whole cows milk, which is recommended to be introduced around baby's first birthday.
How to Select and Store Yogurt for Baby Food
In order to ensure you are serving yogurt that is free from growth hormones, buying organic is a good idea. When selecting yogurt, whole milk plain yogurt is the best variety for young, growing kids, and it's important to choose one without artificial coloring, flavoring and sugars. For even more added protein, try whole milk plain Greek yogurt. It's also fun to try adding your own mashed fruit or sweetener to cut back on some of the unnatural ingredients. It is important to check the expiration date when selecting yogurt at your grocery store because it has a relatively short shelf-life. In order to get the most benefit out of fresh yogurt, store it in the refrigerator and discard once it reaches the expiration date.
For families that are dairy-free, you can try plain goat milk or coconut milk yogurts. You can find them at almost any health store in the yogurt aisle.
Yogurt makes an excellent healthy dip for veggies, fruits, or even meat and chicken. It is also great added to tasty baked goods and a great protein-rich snack on its own. Baby and kiddo will love how their tummies feel after eating this probiotic-rich food and will love the tangy and sweet flavor even more!
Recipes Using Yogurt: