As part of a healthy, balanced diet, babies generally start consuming a range of solid foods from the age of six months. This includes getting additional sources of dairy – aside from breastmilk or formula – in the form of foods like cheese. Providing calcium, protein and a range of vitamins, knowing when babies can have cheese is an important step for parents when transitioning their babies over to solid foods.
This helpful guide will inform you about all the different types of cheese available – from cottage cheese for babies to cheese sticks for babies, and even tips on when babies can have soft cheese.
Can Babies Eat Cheese?
Yes! Unless your baby already has allergies associated with dairy products, you can start incorporating cheese into their diet once they start eating solid foods around six months of age.
If you are worried about certain types of cheese for your baby to try, or if you are unsure whether they are old enough to start eating cheese at all, make sure you speak to your doctor who can give you personalised advice.
Cheese as a Nutrient Source
Starting your baby’s journey into solid foods with healthy options is a great idea. In addition to pureed fruits and vegetables, cheese offers a wide variety of health benefits and is a popular source of nutrients for hungry bubs.
While everything should be consumed in moderation, it’s good to know that different cheeses can provide lots of health-promoting benefits in babies, which can help support everything from their immune system to bone growth and nervous-system development.
Here are some of the top nutrients found in cheese.
Once you know when babies can eat cheese, you can start giving your little one pieces that are easy to pick up, chew and swallow–or melted in purees or stews. The added benefit is that cheese is a powerful source of calcium – which is essential for babies’ development.
Calcium is fantastic for bone growth. Starting with a mild cheese for baby might be the best way to start your little one on eating cheese.
Protein and Fats
Cheese also contains lots of healthy protein and good fats. Cheddar and mozzarella are cheeses with a high protein content, but cottage cheese for babies has lots of protein as well and it may be easier for your little one to consume. You can start giving your baby cottage cheese as soon as they start eating solids.
While it’s true that cheese contains quite a bit of fat, that’s not necessarily a bad thing in growing babies. In fact, the combination of protein and fats in cheese like ricotta, for example, are an excellent source of energy for your baby and will support their development.
Cheese contains lots of vitamin B12. This water-soluble vitamin is naturally present in cheese and assists the healthy development and function of your baby’s nervous system.
How to Prepare Cheese for Your Baby
The versatility of cheese is such that you can give it to your baby in a variety of different ways. That means if you have a fussy little eater who isn’t content with a cheese stick for babies, you can cook it into a different meal that they enjoy.
It’s important to know when babies can have cheese in different ways depending on their age, development and confidence to feed themselves. Here are some helpful tips and recipes to give your child cheese according to their life stage.
6 Months – 1 Year
When your child is just starting out with solid foods, it’s important to give them cheese that is not too hard for them to chew and swallow. So avoid hard cheeses until they are more confident eaters, and always be near your child when they are eating cheese to ensure they don’t choke.
Soft, digestible varieties like cottage cheese for babies are a great place to start. You can give this to your little one in a bowl and help them eat it with a spoon. Or you can let them enjoy the tactile feeling on their hands and let them try to feed themselves. Soft shredded mozzarella or cheddar are also easy options that will encourage self-feeding with easy-to-chew cheese.
13 Months – 2 Years
As your baby grows and tries lots of different cheeses, their confidence will grow and they will likely be interested in exploring new things. As with all food, don’t be discouraged if they aren’t interested in eating lots of new types of cheese straight away. Be consistent and give them a few different options to try. Giving them cheese sticks for babies at this age can be a good way for them to get all the health benefits in an easy-to-hold food that they can consume at their leisure.
You might also want to start giving them meals with different cheeses, especially if they are fussy eaters who don’t like eating plain cheese on its own. Here’s a way to give them a healthy dose of both cheese and vegetables in a tasty muffin recipe:
Cheese Vegetable Muffins
2 ½ cups plain flour, sifted
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ cup grated carrot
¼ cup grated zucchini
¼ cup corn kernels
75g very finely chopped spring onions
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground paprika
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
300ml tub sour cream
100ml of prepared Alula GOLD TODDLER milk drink
1 large egg
100g reduced salt butter or margarine, melted
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.
- Combine flour and baking powder and then stir through the carrot, zucchini, corn, spring onions, ground nutmeg and paprika.
- In a jug, whisk together the cheese, sour cream, milk drink, egg and melted butter and pour into the flour and vegetable mixture. Stir together until just combined.
- Divide mixture into muffin cases and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes in tin before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Muffins can be served warm or cold.
Once your baby reaches the age of two, their food options become much broader – so it’s time for them to try lots of different delicious cheeses! Rather than just having cheese on its own, or in sandwiches and muffins, it’s good to try cooking up more complex recipes that include a variety of healthy ingredients.
This tasty fish pie recipe, for example, includes a yummy cheese sauce that will keep your toddler coming back for more.
1 tbsp margarine
2 potatoes – peeled and diced
50g frozen sweetcorn
50g frozen peas
100g salmon fillet (carefully checked for bones)
100g white fish (carefully checked for bones)
150ml of prepared Alula Gold Toddler milk drink
25g corn flour
250ml of prepared Alula Gold Toddler milk drink
50g cheddar cheese – grated
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- In a saucepan, steam the potatoes until soft. Once cooked, mash with milk and butter.
- In a separate pan of boiling water, cook the frozen sweetcorn and peas for 4 minutes or until tender.
- Meanwhile, put the fish in a pan with the milk, cover with a lid and poach for five minutes or until the fish is cooked. Remove the fish from the pan, remove skin and flake the flesh, removing any bones.
- For the cheese sauce, add margarine to the saucepan and heat gently. Once melted, add the flour and stir for 30 seconds. Take off the heat and slowly stir in the milk. Return to a medium heat and whisk continuously until the sauce thickens. Add the grated cheese, stirring until it melts.
- Mix the fish with the vegetables and the cheese sauce and pour into a greased ovenproof dish. Cover with the mashed potato.
- Place the dish in the oven and heat until browned.
Benefits of Giving Cheese to Your Baby
When you introduce cheese to your baby from a young age – especially in the early days of them starting on solid foods – you can get them accustomed to the tastes and textures.
This is because whether you are feeding them an easy-to-swallow cottage cheese for babies, or any other type of cheese that is good for little ones – you are promoting healthy eating habits and giving them the calcium, protein and vitamins their body needs to thrive.