Given my son's lactose issues early in his infancy, I was quite hesitant to try any other dairy products with him. However, I was also not 100% convinced he was lactose intolerant, and really struggling to find ways to incorporate protein into his diet once he started eating more finger foods (he had an aversion to the texture of meats at first). Yogurt seemed an excellent choice, and I knew that if necessary I could probably find a soy option if the cow's milk variety didn't work out.
My mom assured me that when I was a baby I had milk issues and had to be on soy formula as well, but that by my first birthday I'd outgrown whatever allergy I had and was totally fine. She gave me the encouragement I needed to try introducing dairy to my little guy. So, around the nine-month mark, after also clearing yogurt with my pediatrician, I bought some YoBaby yogurt. I was careful to get a flavor my son knew (in this case peach) rather that something like strawberry, so that if there was an allergic reaction, I could isolate it to the lactose.
Guess what?! He did just fine! I was flabbergasted, but also super pleased to find that my son could eat dairy without a projectile mess all over me and the kitchen! But I was also confused. Why can he eat yogurt but when I gave him cow's milk-based formula just a few weeks before (it was an emergency on a flight when I'd misplaced my spare soy formula) he hurled everywhere for three hours?!? I started doing some research and this is what I learned:
"Lactose is broken down with the culturing of the yogurt or cheese and milk proteins are either semi-removed or limited. The culturing makes yogurt and cheese easier to digest. Many people with lactose intolerance often are be able to eat cheese and/or yogurt without trouble. The same is often true for some people with a milk protein (either to the casein or the whey) allergy."
So go ahead and try yogurt with your little one! Starting around seven months should be totally fine for most babies. Just keep a few things in mind when introducing yogurt:
- Yogurt is not a substitute for breast milk or formula. Please keep pumping your baby with that most important source of nutrition until his or her first birthday (or as recommended by your pediatrician).
- Please be mindful of the sugar added to yogurt. Lactose (naturally occurring "milk sugar") is fine, but added sugars should be very limited in your baby's diet, if included at all. YoBaby contains natural organic sugars that are not processed or chemically processed, but there are other, less expensive options on the market for those who are mindful of their budgets (and who isn't, these days?).
- Whole milk yogurt is best, as it provides extra fat for growing babies!