Cottage cheese is a healthy way to pack a variety of nutrients into your day. It is high in protein to help build muscles but lower in fat and carbohydrates. In addition, it contains vitamin B6, zinc, copper, and calcium to help develop strong bones. You can see why parents consider incorporating this into the baby’s diet when introducing new foods.
But is it safe for infants to consume a dairy product that is high in sodium? Yes! It’s a great way to their diet includes all the nutrients they’ll need to grow.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the benefits of adding cottage cheese, signs of a dairy allergy, and fun ways to introduce cottage cheese to your baby.
Benefits of Your Baby Eating Cottage Cheese
Packed with Nutrients
Cottage cheese is considered part of a healthy baby diet.
One serving of these fresh, soft cheeses is a quick way to include many essential nutrients including a variety of B-vitamins that help with brain development.
Calcium is responsible for strong bones, but it also enhances the nervous system. As a result, blood circulation through the entire body improves, and blood sugar levels are maintained.
Mixes Easily With Other Foods
You can mix cottage cheese with pureed fruits your baby already enjoys to create a new texture and flavor to introduce.
Cottage cheese can be fun finger food for your baby to enjoy as a snack.
Drawbacks of Your Baby Eating Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese comes from pasteurized cow’s milk. While you shouldn’t give babies younger than 1-year-old milk, it is safe to feed them cheese and yogurt.
Keep in mind that these are dairy products and allergenic food. If your baby has a history of food allergies or intolerances, it is best to avoid this and other cheeses.
However, if there are no known issues, you and your pediatrician should discuss the option of dairy products when thinking your baby is ready for solid foods.
Introducing them in the early stages can reduce the likelihood of developing an allergy! Signs your child may be suffering from an allergic reaction include diarrhea, bloating, a rash, or increased gas.
Sometimes when babies are suffering from a food allergy, they may experience wheezing, vomiting, or become fussy after eating.
Too much sodium in our diets is pretty standard these days. If we offer babies salty foods too young, we may be developing an increased taste for salt.
More importantly, too much salt places extra pressure on their developing kidneys, contribute to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease later in life.
Although there are numerous nutrients found in cottage cheese, it also contains a high amount of sodium, containing almost 800 mg in a single cup.
How Much Salt Should My Baby Have?
Babies younger than six months should only consume around 110 mg per day, while infants older than six months can have approximately 370 mg of sodium. (Remember, breast milk and formula both contain levels of sodium.)
When purchasing, look for brands on the shelves labeled as pasteurized, lower sodium (less than 100 mg per serving), made from whole milk, and contain no added preservatives or sugar.
Once you’ve brought your selection home, rinsing it under running water can further reduce the level of sodium your baby consumes.
For example, use a mesh colander under cold water to reduce the sodium by up to eighty percent.
Large Curds May Be A Possible Choking Hazard
The soft texture of cottage cheese might not look like it would be a choking hazard, but it can be for a tiny baby just learning to eat solid foods.
It is available in small and large curds, so you could play it a little safer and buy the smaller curds to decrease the risk of choking.
You can take it a step further by mashing the curds into small pieces using the back of a spoon.
Introducing Cottage Cheese
As previously mentioned, cottage cheese mixes well with pureed fruits. When you decide to include cottage cheese for the first time, mixing it with a familiar fruit or vegetable may make the transition easier for your baby.
If solid foods have been a part of their diet for a while, you can try mixing cottage cheese with rice or pasta. It is also easily pureed and mixed into pancakes.
Six Months to One Year
For babies six to twelve months old, you should avoid store-bought cottage cheese as much as possible because they are higher in sodium.
However, if you make homemade baby food, you can make your own cottage cheese too! Once you’ve got the cottage cheese made, your infant or toddler can enjoy it on top of crackers, rice cakes, or on its own from the bowl.
For example, try this recipe from Rebooted Mom with three simple ingredients. This recipe makes a total of two cups, with serving sizes being 1/4 cup.
It will keep in the refrigerator for approximately one week when stored in appropriate containers.
Homemade Cottage Cheese
- 1-gallon whole milk, not ultra-high temperature processed or long life*
- 3/4 C vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 C heavy cream optional
- Pour milk into a stockpot. Slowly heat to 175 degrees F, stir continuously so that the milk doesn’t scorch the bottom of the pot.
- Remove from the heat, add the vinegar, and stir thoroughly for 10-15 seconds. Cover the pot and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
- Line a colander with a towel or cheesecloth. Drain the mixture through the colander over a large pot or bowl to catch the whey. Drain for at least 30 seconds.
- Tie up the ends of the towel or cheesecloth to form a tight ball. Dip the ball into a clean bowl of cold water. This will cool the curds quickly and evenly. Squeeze the ball to remove any extra liquid.
- Put the cheese into a large bowl and use your hands to break it into small curds. Stir in the salt until it satisfies your taste.
- Optional Step: Add heavy cream for more creaminess. Check the taste and add more salt if you think it’s needed.
- Store in the refrigerator in a covered container until ready to serve.
One Year Old and Beyond
Once your baby has reached twelve months of age, your baby can eat cottage cheese with a spoon.
First, teach them how to use their age-appropriate utensil by modeling how to load the spoon for them.
It may be helpful to load the spoon for them when they are just beginning. If they haven’t quite grasped how to use a spoon, you can always treat it like a dip and serve with fruit slices.
Additional Ways to Introduce Cottage Cheese
Always consult with your pediatrician to ensure any food is appropriate for your baby to try. But, here are some additional ways to introduce cottage cheese into their diet:
- Mix cottage cheese with a grated apple.
- Try mashing an avocado or banana to spread on toast, and top with cottage cheese.
- Create creamy mashed potatoes by blending them with cottage cheese.
- Add cottage cheese to scrambled eggs.
- Prepare over mashed sweet potatoes with some cinnamon.
Slowly Introduce Any New Food
As you can see, babies can eat cottage cheese! Since it is high in sodium, be mindful of the other foods they eat during the day to prevent too much sodium intake.
Like any food, start by introducing a small amount and monitor for any adverse reactions. If there are no signs of an allergy, you can continue experimenting with low-sodium or homemade cottage cheese.
Your baby will benefit from the vast amount of nutrients it contains and will enjoy the variations they can eat!