Yogurt with Active Cultures
When it comes to yogurt, some experts recommend waiting until babies are 8 months old, others say yogurt is OK to introduce as early as 6 months. Ask your pediatrician for his opinion before you start feeding your baby yogurt.
When you do decide to begin yogurt as part of your baby’s diet, be sure to select yogurt with live probiotics by looking for words like “active yogurt cultures” or “healthy live bacteria cultures” on the label. Probiotics are absolutely necessary for a healthy immune system. These healthy, good bacteria keep the bad bacteria in your body in check. If the bad bacteria overtakes the good, all types of infections may occur, including the fungal infections thrush and candida.
The first probiotics in baby’s intestines come from mom’s vagina during birth or bacteria in the operating room during a cesarian section. Then baby gets additional probiotics from mom’s breast milk, formula, and the environment.
Read the ingredients list on the label to make sure it is plain yogurt. Babies need fats, so buy the whole fat or low-fat varieties and not the non-fat type. You could also make your own yogurt by hand. I have detailed instructions on how to make your own yogurt in the new edition of Super Baby Food. A quick set of yogurt making instructions as well as pictures can be found on the TheFrugalGirl blog.
Greek yogurt is another choice. It is thicker than regular yogurt and more appropriate for a Stage 2 eater. Before the advent of Greek yogurt, manufacturers would strain the whey from regular yogurt to make “yogurt cheese,” which is similar to Greek yogurt.
Yogurt – Flavor Your Own
Much of the “fruit” yogurt in supermarkets have gobs of unhealthy sugar and flavors added to them, even the yogurts that have healthy-looking pictures of fruit on their containers.
Ignore everything on the carton except the nutrition facts panel and the ingredients list, and this goes for all foods in packages at all stores, even health food stores. Flavor plain yogurt with the age-appropriate real fruit and veggies you freeze using the baby food freeze cube method.
TIP: Yogurt (and other light colored food) is a great food to have fun mixing food colors into, and I do mean food coloring, like the liquid from canned beets, turmeric, frozen berry juices. Let your child mix them together into yogurt for fun new colors and for learning color combinations.
Other Probiotics Food Choices
Examples of other foods that contain probiotics are kefir, sauerkraut and other fermented foods. All these foods in the supermarket might be fakes–they can contain only dead bacteria–including baby yogurts that are shelf stable. Buy only the foods that indicate that their probiotics are still alive and kicking, with your doc’s approval.