Believe it or not, there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to buying the best yogurt for babies! Should you buy sweetened or plain, conventional or organic, whole fat or low fat? Read on for a detailed rundown of what you should be looking for when it comes to baby yogurt!
All the info on baby yogurt in video format for those of you who prefer!
Should Babies Have Yogurt?
Many parents are concerned with whether yogurt for babies is healthy or not. So let's clear that up first!
When Can Babies Have Yogurt?
Yogurt is a great option for babies, even as one of their first foods right around 6 months!
Many people are concerned with yogurt because we recommend not giving milk to babies under one. But milk to drink is the main thing that should be avoided under one, not all dairy. So no need to be concerned on that end!
Yogurt is a source of good fats that can support healthy brain development. It is also an allergen (milk) so is actually a good thing to offer towards the beginning of foods. Not to mention it's a great source of probiotics and is a favorite food of many babies, which doesn't hurt!
The Basics of Baby Yogurt
Fat Content of Yogurt
First and foremost, you should be buying your baby whole milk yogurt. That is the number one recommendation. This usually means somewhere between 3-4% fat on the label, although a higher fat content is not a bad thing here. Babies need a high fat diet to help with brain development, and full fat dairy is a great way to provide that.
Greek vs Regular Yogurt
As far as greek yogurt versus regular yogurt, it really comes down to personal preference. I prefer greek yogurt because it is easier to get it to stay on the spoon if you are letting your baby self-feed! That's always a plus in my book.
Unsweetened Yogurt or Flavored Yogurt for Babies
One of my biggest nutritional recommendations is to start your baby on plain yogurts with no added sweeteners of any kind. Between 6 months to 1 year especially, babies are great little food explorers and are open to most foods. Most babies have absolutely no problem with plain yogurt. It is often the parents that feel the preference for flavored, not the baby!
Babies under one really do not need to have a flavored yogurt that is sweetened with anything. That includes some of the brands marketed directly for babies like Stonyfield.
Next time you are in a store, find one of the baby yogurts and compare the grams of sugar in a container of plain yogurt to those in a flavored one. The last time I did this, the flavored one had an entire teaspoon (4g) of added sugar in one 4oz (1/2 cup) container!
Keep in mind if you do this little experiment that you should use a plain version of the yogurt as a comparison. Milk has naturally occurring sugars that shouldn't be considered as added sugars. Use the plain one to figure out how much of the sugars in the flavored one are from the milk if added sugars are not clear on the label.
Flavored and Unsweetened Baby Yogurt Options
I know that there are a few yogurt brands out there that have recently created some unsweetened, flavored yogurts. If you can find these, then that is a great option. But unsweetened in my mind means nothing added, including artificial sweeteners, stevia, or agave. I might even include fruit juice in my list of sweeteners to avoid here, depending on how much is added to the container.
Don't get me wrong, I by no means think that sugar or sweeteners are evil! You can check out my take on sugars for kids under two here. But added sugars are simply unnecessary when it comes to a baby under one. They are learning what they like to begin with. Start them off on the right foot!
If you happen to have a baby who doesn't take to plain yogurt and you have tried multiple times, there are some quick ways you can flavor your yogurt at home. You can also do this just to switch it up if your baby doesn't mind the flavor of the plain yogurt, too. I like to add a little peanut butter to my greek yogurt. You can also boil down some frozen fruit with nothing added and use that as a fruit flavor. I'd love to hear some of your own yogurt flavoring ideas!
Organic vs Conventional
This is always a hot topic in nutrition. Organic is by no means necessary when it comes to dairy and babies. Organic dairy products can be quite expensive, and if you do not have the budget to buy organic, that is perfectly fine.
If your budget allows, I would choose organic in the case of dairy. At least in the United States, organic dairy means that cows have been raised on a pasture for at least some part of their lives. Pastured cows produce milk that has a better fat profile than ones that have been grain fed. But again, don't feel that it is a necessity.
Yogurt can be a source of great nutritional benefits for babies. Starting at 6 months, you can feed your baby yogurt. Choose a yogurt that is full fat, plain, and organic if your budget allows. Regular vs Greek yogurt is primarily about preference when they are babies.