A reader asks:

What is the best age to start yogurt?  And what kind?


The AAP’s Committee on Nutrition has the answer:

Whole milk is not recommended for infants under 12 months of age, although yogurt and cheese can be introduced after 6 months.


These recommendations assume a few things:

  • The infant is exclusively breastfed for the first six months and so has been getting adequate calcium all along.  In fact, for formula-fed babies, starting yogurt at 6 months might be more important:  Calcium is less bio-available in formulas than breast milk (it doesn’t get absorbed by the baby’s intestine as much), so it is important to find other ways for these bottle-fed babies to get added calcium.
  • The yogurt should NOT be a low-fat or no-fat product.  Rather, it should be made with whole milk.  Avoid yogurt with artificial sweeteners and other chemical ingredients.  Watch out for added sugars.
  • Yogurt is not a substitute for breast milk or formula, which remain critical for adequate infant nutrition.
  • Yogurt is not a reliable source of vitamin D.  We need to keep our eye on vitamin D intake throughout childhood, providing supplements when indicated.  (For example, all breastfed babies should take a vitamin D supplement.)
  • Whole milk should not be started until 12 months of age.  (And when that time comes, please introduce whole milk in a cup, NOT a bottle.  12 months is when we start to get rid of the bottle.)


The reason why you can feed a baby yogurt — but not whole milk — at six months old is because the bacterial cultures in yogurt break down the milk protein, making it more easily digested.  Whole milk is much more difficult for babies younger than 1 year old to digest.  As a result, they can get microscopic intestinal bleeding that can lead to anemia.

As far as a brand recommendation, we’ll leave that up to you.  Most important:  read the label!

Read AAP Policy Statement on “Optimizing Bone Health and Calcium Intakes of Infants, Children, and Adolescents” here.

Get some yogurt recipe ideas here.