Yogurt is a very healthy snack for children, provided you select the right variety. The most nutritious yogurt includes real fruit and few or no artificial colors and ingredients. A serving a day is an excellent way to make sure that your child receives all her recommended daily allowance of calcium.
Yogurt is an excellent choice for one of your child's daily servings of dairy products. Children get 4 to 6 oz. of yogurt a day, which supplies her with around half of her recommended daily requirement of calcium, according to Gregory D. Miller, author of "The Handbook of Dairy Foods and Nutrition." The recommended daily allowance of calcium for a child ages 2 to 4 is 500 mg. Offer 2-year-olds 4 oz. servings and work up to 6 oz. servings for 4-year-olds.
What to Look For
Children enjoy flavored or plain yogurt. Look for flavored yogurt that includes real fruit and that minimizes the use of artificial colors and flavors. Avoid yogurts that include candy, except to serve as a dessert occasionally. You don't need to purchase expensive yogurts marketed just for children; a plain adult variety or a variety with probiotics will do. A 2002 study conducted in Denmark showed that yogurt with probiotics decreases the amount of time a toddler has diarrhea, which is an added benefit for you and your toddler.
Other Beneficial Dairy Products
Your child needs more than just yogurt to keep her healthy. She should have at least one more serving of dairy per day to get to her recommended daily allowance of calcium. A 4- to 6-oz. glass of milk or a 1/2-oz. serving of cheese will help her get enough calcium for the day. While ice cream or frozen yogurt is fine for an occasional treat, you shouldn't count it as a serving of dairy on a regular basis because of the added sugar.
Some children do not enjoy yogurt because of its slightly sour taste. If your child does not like yogurt, don't fret or buy her a sugary kids' variety just to make her eat it. As long as she is getting her recommended daily allowance of calcium through another healthy dairy selection, she does not need to eat yogurt. Try introducing it again in a few months; a child's tastes can change over time, and she may like it later. Experiment by adding dry mixes or other savory seasonings to plain yogurt as a dip with healthy vegetables or fruits.