At What Age Can Children Eat Cheese?
Cheese is one of the foods that’s recommended in almost any diet. It contains essential nutrients such as minerals and vitamins. In addition, it’s capable of providing a significant amount of proteins of high biological value. However, it’s important to know when children can start to eat cheese.
It must be taken into account that not all foods can be introduced during the first months of complementary feeding. Some of them have to be restricted or limited in order to prevent digestive problems, allergies, intolerances, or choking.
Children can start to eat cheese once they reach 6 months of age
After 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, other foods can be introduced into the diet. Cheese is one of them, although not all varieties are suitable. It’s important to pay attention to the labeling to check that the one you offer contains only milk, salt, curdling agent, and enzymes. In addition, it’s essential that it has always undergone a pasteurization process.
Some types of fresh cheese that haven’t undergone heat treatment may contain bacteria such as Listeria. If a child ingests this microorganism, they could develop a serious health problem, so it’s something to be avoided at all costs. It should be noted that children’s immune systems are immature and aren’t able to fight many infections. Hard cheeses are less likely to contain microorganisms. Therefore, they can be offered with a high safety rating.
Don’t opt for low-fat cheeses
When offering cheese to a child, it’s important to avoid those with a low fat content. This nutrient is necessary to ensure hormonal balance, protect lean tissue, and provide fat-soluble vitamins. It’s an element that shouldn’t be restricted.
In general, fatty cheeses have a higher nutritional density. They also contain proteins of high biological value, which are necessary for the development of muscle mass. According to a study published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism, it’s important to ensure a daily intake of 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of weight in children.
However, try not to offer your little ones cheeses with a very strong flavor, as they’re not usually well accepted. Therefore, it’s better to start with milder varieties. That way, they can gradually get used to the organoleptic characteristics of these foods. At the same time, it’s important to grate the cheese or cut it into very small pieces to avoid the risk of choking. Even so, you should always keep an eye on the child while handling this food to make sure that everything goes well.
Allergic reactions to cheese
It should be noted that children can develop an allergy to cow’s milk proteins. In this case, they won’t be able to consume cheese, as this food will cause serious symptoms. This is evidenced by research published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics. If you detect that your child has hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in the mouth, or vomiting, you should avoid offering the food on subsequent occasions.
In any case, there’s always the possibility of consulting with your pediatrician before introducing cheese in complementary feeding to reduce the possible risks. It may also be the case of lactose intolerance that produces symptoms when the product is consumed.
Cheese: A suitable food for children’s diet
As we’ve said, cheese is a good food to introduce in the diet of children. From the sixth month of life, it can be offered, although it’s important to choose the right variety to avoid unnecessary microbiological risks. Likewise, the consumption process should always be supervised to avoid choking.
Even so, if you detect any adverse reaction or symptomatology in your little one after eating this food, we recommend that you consult your pediatrician as soon as possible. If there’s an intolerance or allergy, removing cheese from the diet may be necessary, either temporarily or permanently. Otherwise, the child’s health could be put at risk in the medium term.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Richter, M., Baerlocher, K., Bauer, J. M., Elmadfa, I., Heseker, H., Leschik-Bonnet, E., Stangl, G., Volkert, D., Stehle, P., & on behalf of the German Nutrition Society (DGE) (2019). Revised Reference Values for the Intake of Protein. Annals of nutrition & metabolism, 74(3), 242–250. https://doi.org/10.1159/000499374
- Mousan, G., & Kamat, D. (2016). Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy. Clinical pediatrics, 55(11), 1054–1063. https://doi.org/10.1177/0009922816664512