One of the most common questions regarding babies’ diets is, “Can I give my baby cheese?” As mothers navigate the complexities of feeding their infants, this query often arises, especially after the 6-month milestone. Along with concerns about cow’s milk, parents wonder why cheese or cottage cheese is considered acceptable when cow’s milk isn’t. Let’s delve into this important question and shed light on the topic of introducing cheese to your baby’s diet.
‘No’ to cow’s milk but ‘Yes’ to cheese, paneer and curd – Why?
Even though cheese and yogurt are made from cow’s milk, they are structurally different. In cheese and yogurt, lactose is broken down to smaller protein molecules by the curdling enzymes, making it easily digestible. Besides, no Mom would think of replacing breast milk with cheese and yogurt!
If you find yourself asking, “Can I give my baby cheese?” and your baby has a milk allergy or lactose intolerance, it’s generally advised to avoid all dairy products, including cheese, curd, and paneer, until they reach 12 months of age. While some experts argue that these foods are safe due to the breakdown of lactose, when it comes to young babies, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. It’s important to prioritize your baby’s health and consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance tailored to your baby’s specific needs.
When can I give my baby cheese?
If you’re wondering, “When can I give my baby cheese?” the current recommendation by the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that cheese can be introduced as early as 6 months of age. However, it is worth noting that traditionally, cheese was advised to be introduced between 7 to 8 months of age.
As with any new food, it’s important to introduce cheese gradually and observe your baby for any signs of allergies or intolerances. Start with small portions and monitor their reaction closely. If you have any concerns or questions, consult with your pediatrician for guidance specific to your baby’s needs.
Remember, every baby is different, and individual developmental factors should also be taken into consideration when introducing new foods. Prioritize your baby’s well-being and follow the recommended guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey of exploring different foods.
What kind of cheese can be given to babies?
It is best to introduce our own paneer or Indian cottage cheese. Always use homemade paneer or get it fresh from a good hygienic local vendor that you trust.
If you wish to feed your baby other kinds of cheese, always go for fresh varieties like the following:
- Goat Cheese
- Cream Cheese – Made from cream instead of milk
- Crème Fraîche
Avoid any kind of cheese with mold, such as blue cheeses.
How much cheese can I give my Baby?
A small cube of paneer is enough for a 6-8 month old baby and as the baby grows, you can feed him a maximum of 2 to 3 small cubes, 3 to 4 times a week. Start small and watch out for any reactions to the cheese or paneer.
Nutritional benefits of Paneer for Babies
- Paneer is a rich source of animal protein available at a comparatively lower cost than meat and forms an important source of animal protein for vegetarians.
- Over and above its high protein content and digestibility, the biological value of protein in paneer is in the range of 80 to 86 .
- In addition, paneer is a valuable source of fat, vitamins and minerals like calcium and phosphorus.
Paneer Recipes for Babies and Toddlers
Plain Sauteed Paneer
Cut homemade paneer into small cubes and saute them lightly in ghee. Then cut again into small bite-sized pieces that the baby can hold and eat as finger food.
Khichdi, Purees & Porridges
Paneer can be crumbled and sprinkled on khichdi, purees & porridges. You can try out these recipes with paneer:
If your child has no problem with cheese or paneer, it is still possible that she may have an intolerance to milk. So do follow the regular rules for introducing new foods when beginning milk for your toddler as well. Till then, let her enjoy the protein in cheese and grow big and strong!