Moms of infants are fine till they hit the 6 month milestone – and then the confusion begins!! Moms’ questions about what to feed their babies and what to stay away from could fill a book!
But all these questions are valid ones considering an infant’s digestive system grows rapidly till the age of one year and each month has a different dietary requirement.
One of the most common questions regarding babies’ diets is that of feeding a baby cow’s milk. No sooner has that confusion died down than the next one pops up – why is cheese or cottage cheese okay when cow’s milk isn’t? That is an important question and we’ll get to it right away!
‘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 your baby has a milk allergy or lactose intolerance, then it’s better to avoid all dairy products including cheese, curd and paneer till 12 months of age. Some experts argue that since the lactose is broken down, these foods are safe, but with a young baby, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
When can I give my baby cheese?
Cheese can be introduced even by 6 months of age as per the current WHO recommendation, although traditionally it was advised to introduce cheese between 7 to 8 months of age.
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!