Many new mothers have a question about when to introduce dairy products to their kids. This question arises because a baby should either be breastfed or be given formula till they turn one. The reason behind this as given by doctors is that the formula or breastmilk contain all the necessary nutrients which is needed for growth and development in the first year. Also, if the cow’s milk is had in excess, it can become difficult for babies to digest. However, products made from cow’s milk are perfectly fine for the babies to consume. This is because cheese, paneer or yoghurt are different structurally. Lactose which is the main sugar in milk is broken down into simpler proteins and sugar which makes it easy to digest. Dairy products provide calcium, protein, and vitamins D, B12 and A, which are very important for the growth of the baby.
Let us talk about some of the common dairy foods and how and when you can give it your baby.
Babies can start eating yoghurt as soon as they start eating solids which is at about six months. As yogurt is rich in nutrients, as it contains protein, calcium and vitamins, it is a great option as one of the first foods for the baby. The yoghurt that is given to babies should be pasteurized and unsweetened. Babies should be given yoghurt made from full fat milk and giving the plain variety is the best way to ensure that there is no sugar intake. If there is a need to add some flavor, it can be done by adding pureed vegetables and fruits when they start eating solids and as they grow, small pieces of vegetables and fruits can be added. Honey should not be given to babies less than a year old as it can contain bacteria.
Paneer is a common food in India and essentially it is milk curd cheese. It is safe to introduce paneer to the baby around 7-8 months. Paneer is known to be one of the best sources of protein and is also rich in phosphorus and calcium which helps in development of teeth and bones. It is simple for the baby to digest paneer as it is low in lactose but it helps in a healthy weight gain as it contains fat. To start with, it is always recommended to make paneer at home and start with small quantities and then increase as the baby demands.
Cheese again is also a great choice to give the babies once they are 8-9 months old. When cheese is introduced it should be in the shredded form so there are no chances of choking. Cheese can be also melted or the softer varieties can be given like singles. Cheese made from whole milk should be given so that the baby gets brain boosting fat.
Like all other foods, every time a dairy product is introduced, parents must wait for three days to check for allergies etc. if the baby has showed any signs of milk or any food allergies, dairy products must only be introduced after checking with the doctor.
Dairy products are a rich source of protein and calcium which is needed by the growing babies. Also, if the baby develops a liking for these products, they have a lot of benefits in the later years also. All mothers must ensure that babies get a good share of milk products in the early years along with fruits and vegetables.