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When Can Your Baby Start Having Dairy Products?

As the babies grow parents are often left wondering when can they offer their baby dairy products like cheese and yogurt. They find themselves at loss when deciding whether to use milk in recipes that the baby is going to eat or not, or if they can give full fat dairy products to the baby. Here, we are compiling a list of some common dairy products along with their pros and cons for babies and when it is safe for them to start having these products in their diet.

1. Milk

You should wait at least 12 months to introduce milk as a drink in the diet. This is because the dairy milk affects the absorption of the iron in the body negatively. Also, for the babies, the dairy milk is harder to digest than infant formula or breast milk. The milk does not contain all the nutrients contained in the infant formula and therefore should not be used as a substitute until the age of 1 year. If the breast milk or formula is replaced with cow milk before 12 months of age, there is a risk of serious health issues. These include Iron Deficient Anemia. It can also lead to a deficiency of Vitamin E and Essential Fatty Acids, which are crucial for healthy growth and development. Babies who are older than 8 months can have baked goods containing milk because the cooking of the food breaks down the milk proteins.

2. Cheese

Pure cheese is a great food for baby and if the baby does not have any dairy allergies, you can start giving it to them when they are 8 months of age. You should start with Jack cheese or Colby cheese, which are lighter tasting cheeses. You can either melt cheese over vegetables or add them to the otherwise you can cut it into pieces and offer a snack to the baby.

3. Yogurt 

The typical age to introduce yogurt is 8 months but it can be given as early as 6 months depending on the baby’s reaction to allergies. Yogurt can be introduced early because unlike cow milk there is no risk of replacing the formula or breast milk completely. With the culturing of yogurt, the lactose is already broken down and milk proteins are removed or limited making it easier to digest. Even if the child is lactose intolerant, he or she can easily handle yogurt and cheese. Yogurt is a great source of calcium for the baby and the bacteria present in it are really good for the digestive system. 

If you have a history of allergies from the milk and lactose intolerance in the family, introducing dairy products before 12 months of age is not a good idea. After that, most babies outgrow these allergies and the risk of developing allergies is also reduced.

The baby needs fat. Fatty acids and fat are essentially required for brain development, to name one reason of the many. The reason the breast milk and formula are so nutritious is that they have high-fat content. Refrain from giving baby low fat or no fat dairy products until they are at least 2 years of age or you are otherwise instructed by the baby’s doctor.

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