This post originally appeared on happyfamilybrands.com and is written by Janel Funk, MS, RD, LDN

With its versatility, yogurt is a staple food for many adults and children alike. But you might not know that yogurt also makes an excellent first food for babies.

Its nutritional profile boasts important nutrients for babies such as calcium and phosphorus for bone strength and protein and fat for babies’ rapid growth. In addition, the active live cultures in yogurt make the lactose and protein in milk easier to digest.

Because yogurt is made by fermentation, its proteins can be easily digested by tiny tummies. This is one reason why feeding yogurt to babies under one is recommended, while offering cow’s milk is not. Not only is cow’s milk more difficult to digest, but it is higher in minerals and protein which not only create stress on infant’s kidneys, and may also lead to anemia. With yogurt, which is typically offered once or twice per day for infants (¼-½ cup), these are not concerns – so you can feel confident providing nutrient-dense yogurt to your baby!

Plain, whole milk yogurt is an ideal choice as a first food for babies as it contains no added sugar, protein, fat, vitamin and minerals, all important for  growth and development. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should get about half of their calories from fat.

As you continue to advance flavors and foods in your baby’s diet , look for a whole milk yogurt blended with fruit, but make sure it has no added sugar or stick with plain whole milk yogurt and add in your own blended fruit.

Because yogurt is conveniently packaged in refrigerated containers, serving it to babies is a breeze as there is no prep work or blending required! The creamy texture is both palatable and soothing to teething gums. As babies get older, they’ll love self-feeding with a scoop of yogurt on a spoon.

Because of yogurt’s neutral flavor, it can be mixed with a variety of ingredients to transform the flavor of your baby’s food as well as add more nutrients. As long as your baby has already had any of the fruits, vegetables, or spices previously without adverse reaction, you can use them in any combination with yogurt to create a new meal for your little one such as:

  •      Yogurt mixed with applesauce
  •      Yogurt mixed with mashed banana
  •      Yogurt blended with cooked peas
  •      Yogurt mixed with mashed avocado
  •      Yogurt blended with cooked sweet potato and a dash of cinnamon
  •      Yogurt blended with fruit and water (for consistency) to make a smoothie