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Is Greek Yogurt Safe for Babies?

by Sara Ipatenco

Yogurt provides a healthy source of calcium and protein, but many fruit-flavored varieties are also packed with sugar -- as much as 44 grams, which is 11 teaspoons, per 8-ounce serving. Greek yogurt offers a healthier alternative to traditional yogurts, because it usually contains less sugar and higher doses of certain nutrients. In most cases, Greek yogurt is a safe addition to your baby's diet once she starts eating solid foods, but always ask her pediatrician before transitioning into new food types.

Greek Yogurt and Babies

Yogurt is a good food option for babies, because it boasts a smooth texture that's easy for your little one swallow, especially if she only has one or two teeth. Greek yogurt offers a nutritious addition to a baby's diet, because it contains a wealth of nutrients and is low in sugar; When babies consume too much added sugar, they're open to an increased risk for unhealthy weight gain. A 4-ounce serving of plain Greek yogurt only contains about 2.25 grams of sugar, which is about one-half of a teaspoon. That's far less than the 21.5 grams in the same amount of a traditional regular fruit-flavored yogurt.

Nutrients

A 4-ounce serving of Greek yogurt supplies your baby with 94 milligrams of calcium, which is about half of the 200 milligrams babies up to 6 months old require and 36 percent of the 260 milligrams babies between the ages of 7 and 12 months need daily. Calcium is essential, because it helps your baby grow strong bones and teeth. The same serving of Greek yogurt also supplies 8.65 grams of protein, a nutrient that encourages proper muscle and tissue growth. Greek yogurt supplies potassium for heart health, phosphorus for strong bones and teeth and vitamin B12 for the formation of red blood cells.

Possible Concerns

Ask your baby's pediatrician before introducing Greek yogurt into her diet, especially if milk allergies or lactose intolerance run in your family. In these cases, Greek yogurt might not be a safe food for your baby. Lactose intolerance occurs when your baby's body doesn't break down the sugars in dairy foods properly, which can lead to cramps, stomach pain, gas and diarrhea. A milk allergy is less common, and usually causes symptoms within 30 minutes of your baby consuming a dairy food, such as Greek yogurt. The symptoms of a milk allergy include rashes, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing and blood in the stool. If your baby develops symptoms of lactose intolerance or milk allergy, seek medical attention immediately.

Serving Suggestions and Considerations

While most large grocery stores stock fruit-flavored Greek yogurt, the plain variety is the lowest in sugar and is the most nutritious option for your baby. Sweeten the Greek yogurt with fresh fruit puree such as strawberries or applesauce. If your baby enjoys the flavor of vegetable purees, such as sweet potatoes or green beans, or infant rice cereal, stir these into the Greek yogurt, too. Don't add large pieces of chopped fresh fruit or vegetables, however, because these can pose a choking hazard. Don't drizzle the Greek yogurt with honey either until your baby is at least 1 year of age. Honey contains spores that can lead to infant botulism and shouldn't be given to babies younger than age 1.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

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