When can babies eat cheese?

So many dos and don’ts tend to float around when it comes to newborns and young children. From how they should be handled to what they should be fed, many doubts and inhibitions surround new parents and caregivers. One of them is whether young children should be given cheese — made from curdled curd.

Experts suggest cheese can form part of a healthy, balanced diet for babies and young children since it provides calcium, protein and vitamins. They suggest that babies can eat pasteurised full-fat cheese after one year of age.

“It is best to introduce your baby to cheese after one year of age as the digestive system is developed and they can tolerate cheese. In younger babies, the digestive system is not fully developed and the main concerns would be milk allergy and milk intolerance, which may occur with feeding cheese,” said Dr Paula Goel, consultant pediatrician, adolescent physician and the founder of Fayth Clinic.

Symptoms of milk allergy include
*Itching or tingling around lips and mouth
*Coughing or shortness of breath

“Some symptoms like blood tinged diarrhea, stomach cramps, watery eyes, abdominal colic may take longer to develop. Milk allergy can also cause severe, life-threatening allergic reaction like constricted, difficulty in breathing, flushed face, and drop in blood pressure, all requiring emergency treatment,” explained Dr Goel stressing that milk allergy is different from lactose intolerance in terms of the threat to life.

What type of cheese to be given?

Cheese given to babies should be full-fat and pasteurised like homemade cottage cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella, or cheddar, Dr Goel mentioned. “Certain cheese like mold-ripened soft cheeses like brie or camembert, blue-veined cheese like Roquefort, Ripened goat milk cheese like chèvre or non-pasteurised cheese are harmful to babies. Unpasteurised cheeses can contain bacteria, viruses, and parasites and may cause food poisoning especially in children less than five years leading to dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, kidney complications, and even death,” Dr Goel noted.

What to keep in mind?

It is important to note that the cheese that you feed your baby should be pasteurised and low in sodium content, suggested Dr Vanshika Gupta Adukia, pregnancy/childbirth and lactation specialist. “It shouldn’t be the cheese that is heavily processed and readily available as that is not actually “cheese”. It is highly chemicalised, containing a multitude of enhancers, posing to be the genuine cheese that it isn’t,” Dr Gupta told indianexpress.com.

newborn What is the right age to start with cheese in diet? (Source: Pixabay)

How and when to introduce cheese?

If you’re newly introducing cheese to your baby, introduce it during the first half of the day, Dr Gupta noted stating that it is so because “your child is likely to be a lot more alert, and you might be more present during this time to be able to pick up on any allergic reactions or sensitivity”. “If it is given in the last meal of the day, they may go to sleep, and you may miss a reaction. More importantly, digestion is a lot easier in the first half of the day, and hence introducing thicker foods at this time is always a better idea,” Dr Gupta said.

The best way to introduce it for the first time is in the form of bite-sized finger food, following all the general finger food protocols. “You could them into strips or cubes for your baby to gnaw on! Over the age of one, however, you can introduce it in many other ways. You could melt it, give it in bites, or even sprinkle it over vegetables, eggs, pasta, parathas, or any other food you make,” Dr Gupta said.

Child nutrition expert and blogger Dr Aakriti Singh shared a recipe on her Instagram page of kid-friendly homemade cheese.


500ml – Full cream milk
2-3tsp – Lemon juice
5-6tbsp – Fresh cream
Salt as per taste
A pinch – Turmeric powder


*Take the milk in a pan and bring to a boil.
*Add lemon juice and curdle the milk completely.
*Cool down and strain.
*Remove excess water and transfer to a mixer jar.
*Add cream, salt, and turmeric powder.
*Blend very well till a nice spread is formed.


– If you feel your spread is thicker, you can add a little more cream as needed.

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