Are you thinking of incorporating SOME dairy products into your baby's cute little chubby cheeked diet? (hint: say yes)
There is typically a lot of confusion and concern when it comes to when a baby should begin consuming milk products. The medical community warns not to have a baby drink milk before they are one year old. This is party due to the fact that they are worried parents might start replacing formula or breastmilk with milk, when this could be harmful to your baby's health! Babies need the nutrients that are specific to breastmilk and formula and cannot be found in cows milk. For this reason, many pediatricians just say "no dairy until one" without any further explaination. They tend to leave out that yogurt and cheese are not in this category.
Lactose is broken down with the culturing of the yogurt or cheese and milk proteins are either semi-removed or limited. The culturing makes yogurt and cheese easier to digest. Many people with lactose intolerance often are be able to eat cheese and/or yogurt without trouble. The same is often true for some people with a milk protein (either to the casein or the whey) allergy. (http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/)
Pediatriations usually recommend that babies can start whole milk yogurt around 8 months of age. It is important to use whole milk yogurt as there are important fats in whole milk that your baby's brain needs. And, not to mention, that low fat yogurts typically have aspartame or splenda in them (and I try and stay away from those as it is). There are several options for choosing the best yogurt for your baby.
Some companies out there offer whole milk yogurt specifically designed for babies (Stoneyfield Farms makes an organic whole milk yogurt for babies called YoBaby. It comes in flavors such as blueberry, peach, banana, etc.).
Of course, Gerber makes what they call yogurt blends, but I don't feel right about a yogurt that doesn't need refrigeration... that just kind of wierds me out. What is in there, anyway?
Another option is to buy PLAIN whole milk yogurt and add your own fruit purees when serving. This is not only a cheaper option, but it will also allow you to change the flavor of the yogurt often. Or to not have to buy a 4 pack of blueberry yogurt only to find out that baby doesn't like blueberry yogurt...
Another option yet is to make your own yogurt! I've always wanted to do this, and while I haven't done it yet, I definitely want to! Visit Wholesome Baby Food - Make Your Own Yogurt to see how!
Cheeses can be offered to non-allergic babies between 8 and 10 months of age. Good cheeses to try include Colby, Jack, Mild Cheddar, cottage cheese, ricotta, and cream cheese. If your baby has developed her pincer grasp and can handle finger foods try grating or cutting into small cubes (smaller than a pea) and offering as a snack. You can also melt cheese over veggies (hello cheese and broccoli!) or stir into purees. Another good idea is macaroni and cheese (please, please don't use the boxed stuff! Cook your baby some ultra soft whole wheat pasta and melt some cheese over it). Cottage cheese also makes good finger food, or mixes into fruit purees well.
It is important to avoid what is called "soft cheeses" which are made from raw milk and are not pastuerized. These include (but are not limited to) Brie, Feta, Camembert, Roquefort, and Bleu Cheese. Pastuerization is important to avoid getting listeria.
*Note, I'm talking real cheese here, please don't feed your baby velveeta or spray stuff from a can, they are not ready for it yet!
Last but not least, don't forget about the 4 day wait rule! (Is it just me, or does the 4 day wait rule seems killer? I can barely feed her the same thing 4 days in a row, there are so many new things to try, I don't see how we will hardly get through them all!)