Most babies can start experimenting with small amounts of dairy foods like yogurt and cheese at about 6 months if they have been doing well on breast milk or cow's milk-based formula and there is no history of milk allergies in the family. However, cow's milk should never replace breast milk or formula until your baby turns 1. Breast milk and formula contain more nutrients that infants need in their first year. And large amounts of cow's milk can be difficult for a baby to digest. Using cow's milk to prepare cereal or other foods is fine though.
When offering cheese, choose shredded varieties (to prevent choking) or melt the cheese and spread it on bread or soft crackers. Also opt for whole-milk yogurt (not low-fat versions) so your baby gets plenty of brain-boosting fat, and look for products that are naturally, not artificially, sweetened. You can buy those yogurts made specifically for babies, but they're not essential (and may be a bit pricier). The biggest difference is that baby yogurts tend to have less sugar than traditional varieties, although regular plain yogurt has no added sugar.
Of course if your baby has a milk allergy or lactose intolerance, or if conditions like eczema, seasonal or food allergies, or asthma run in your family, your pediatrician will likely advise that you wait longer to add cheese and yogurt to your baby's menu.
Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.