Yogurt is one of the first foods that spring to mind when you start weaning. The smooth texture, easy availability and lack of prep required make it an ideal first food. However, it’s not such an easy option for those of us who have babies with cow’s milk allergies. I felt so disappointed when, 6 years ago, I looked at the dairy and soy free options for my baby, and found so little. The good news is that the selection of dairy free yogurts for babies and toddlers has now improved dramatically!
In this article you’ll find information about what to look out for when choosing a dairy free yogurt, and plenty of ideas about how to serve it to babies and toddlers. I have also included a list of products available in UK supermarkets (many will be available in other countries also), along with key nutritional information for each.
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What is dairy free yogurt made from?
It used to be that nearly all dairy free yogurts were soy based; not very helpful for the large proportion of children with cow’s milk protein allergy who also react to soya! Because of this, I have not included soy based yogurts in this round up.
However, there has been a huge explosion in the soy free range available over the past few years. These tend to be either nut, coconut or oat based. If your child can tolerate all of these, then rotating is a good way to get some variety into their diet.
What age can babies eat dairy free yogurt?
Current UK guidance recommends that weaning should start from around 6 months of age. When talking about dairy, the NHS states “Full-fat dairy products, such as pasteurised cheese and plain yogurt or fromage frais, can be given from around 6 months of age. Choose products with no added sugar.” I have applied the same criteria for suggesting which dairy & soy free yogurts are better for younger babies, but have also included some other options to consider as they get older.
When to start giving sugar, and how much, is largely a personal decision, and depends how much sugar is in other parts of your child’s diet. So, it’s not my place to be specific about this; I’ve included both options, and you can make your choice!
The other thing to keep in mind when introducing dairy free yogurt is that nuts, oats and coconuts are all potential allergens. Unless you have good reason to suspect an allergy to these, guidance is that there is no need to delay introducing them. You should do so one at a time, in small amounts and preferably on a day when your child is well. If your child does have a reaction then this will help establish what they reacted to. Of course, if you are reading this article then you probably have a child with at least one food allergy, so do talk to your child’s GP or allergy specialist if you have any concerns about introducing other potential allergens.
What to look for when choosing a dairy & soy free yogurt for babies
When choosing a dairy free yogurt for your baby, there are a few key things to look out for. It’s never going to be a like for like switch with cow’s milk yogurt, and you don’t need to match the nutritional profile of dairy exactly. However, it’s good to be aware of how they differ. Any gaps can be made up for in other areas of your child’s diet, or by using supplements if necessary.
These are some things to consider when choosing a dairy and soy free yogurt:
- Calcium – dairy free yogurts don’t naturally contain calcium. However, many are now calcium fortified, and those that are tend to be a good match for the amount of calcium in dairy yogurt. Where possible, choose a calcium fortified yogurt for children.
- Protein – dairy free yogurts tend to be a poor substitute when it comes to protein content. However, serving the yogurt with other foods can balance this out. See the section below on ‘how to serve yogurt to babies’ for some ideas.
- Added vitamins, particularly B12 – dairy is a good source of vitamin B12, so dairy free children may need to make up for this in other ways. Looking for a yogurt fortified with B12 can be a good way to do this.
- Sugar – it’s best to avoid a lot of added sugar for young children, and flavoured yogurt can contain more than you might think (this is the case for dairy yogs as well).
Just a little disclaimer here. I’m sure this is obvious already (!), but I’m not a dietitian. This is all information I have learned as an allergy parent trying to provide the best diet I can for my kids within our limitations (and I have done a fair bit of research). I’ve provided links to reputable sources within the text if you want to read more about the nutrition side of things.
Which yogurts are dairy and soy free?
I have split the yogurts below into whether they have added sugar or not, and if they are fortified. I have excluded yogurts with huge amounts of added sugar. When choosing, keep in mind that it’s rare to get everything you want in one product, and you will be limited by what your local shops stock. My advice would be to include a mix. For example, you may be happy to give a yogurt with a small amount of added sugar because it is well fortified, but alternate that with a low sugar non-fortified product.
Dairy & soy free yogurts with no added sugar & fortified with calcium or vitamins:
- Oatly Oatgurt Greek
- Oatly Greek Yogurts are fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12. Hurray! They are available in large 400g pots
- Koko plain unsweetened and Koko Greek style yogurt
- These are both are fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12. Top marks! They are available in large 500g pots
- The Coconut Collaborative pouches (available in strawberry & banana and mango & passion fruit flavours) and apricot flavoured child sized pots
- Unlike their main range, these Coconut Collaborative kid’s yogurts are fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12. They are sweetened with sugars from fruit only
- Note that the pouches state they are suitable for age 3 and over. You can see their reasoning for this on their FAQs; they acknowledge many parents will be happy to give the pouches earlier than this. The apricot mini pots are suitable for any age!
- The Coconut Collaborative Gut Health range
- Like their kid’s range, the Coconut Collaborative Gut Health range is fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12. They also contain lots of gut loving cultures! Available in a 350g plain tub, or a four pack of 100g strawberry flavour pots.
Dairy & soy free yogurts with no added sugar but not fortified with calcium or vitamins:
- Nush dairy free natural almond yogurt
- Sold in 350g size pots
- Nush fruit flavoured almond yogurts (available in raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, mango & passion fruit) & Nush kids strawberry almond tubes
- These are flavoured with fruit purees. The pots are 350g and the tubes are packs of 5 x 40g
- Ella’s Kitchen banana organic dairy free yogurt pouch
- This 90g pouch is coconut milk based
- The Coconut Collaborative dairy free mango & passion fruit yogurts
- These are small 100g pots
- Lidl coconut yogurt pots
- These are well priced 150g pots which are available in plain coconut and a range of fruit flavours
Dairy & soy free yogurts which are fortified, but with some added sugar:
- Oatly Oatgurt strawberry
- This has a small amount of added sugars. It is fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12
- The Collective dairy-free kids suckies
- These yogurt pouches are handy for packed lunches and trips out. They come in a range of fruit flavours, and are fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12
- Petit Filous dairy free, raspberry flavour
- This is an almond based yogurt, available in packs of 4 x 95g pots. It is fortified with calcium and vitamin D2, but not vitamin B12
- Koko fruit flavoured pots (strawberry, raspberry, coconut & lemon, and peach & passion fruit flavours)
- These are fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12, and are sold in packs of 2 x 125g pots
How to serve dairy free yogurt for babies
Plain yogurt is easy to spoon feed, and if you are baby led weaning then you can serve it on a pre-loaded spoon (with a bit of guidance initially!). To jazz it up and to provide some variation, you could try serving it:
- with a sprinkle of chia seeds for added protein and fibre
- topped with raspberry chia jam (switch the honey for maple syrup or agave syrup)
- mixed with pureed fruit
- sprinkled with dessicated coconut
- with peanut, almond or cashew butter swirled through (this is another way to increase the protein content)
At breakfast, it’s a good idea to serve yogurt alongside some carbohydrates such as toast, vegan pancakes, french toast or dairy free porridge. (As an aside, If you’ve struggled to find sliced bread that is dairy and soya free, check out my ultimate list of bread available in UK supermarkets!).
Another breakfast or pudding favourite in our house is to make a yogurt sundae! Simply layer up yogurt with a variety of toppings such as chopped fruit, chia jam or rice puffs in between each layer. The different flavours and texture are interesting for babies to explore. Older children can make their own – great fun!
Packed lunches and snacks on the go
Taking dairy free yogurt out and about as part of a packed lunch is a bit trickier. The majority of products available are big sharing size pots, and there are very few kids sized pots on the market. Never fear, I have got a great hack for you! You can buy reusable pouches, which give your child just the same experience as the yogurt squeezies available for lots of dairy yogurt brands.
My favourite by far are Nom Nom pouches. Another allergy mum who saw me using these on my Instagram account got some and described them as “the answer to our prayers”! You can get them in a cute animal design* in 140ml size, or larger 250ml capacity pouches* which are good for older kids. We use these all the time for yogurts and smoothies. The side opening means they are very easy to fill and clean.
There are also some packed lunch boxes which have compartments that can hold yogurt without it leaking into the other sections. I have Yum Box* bento style lunch boxes for both my kids, and they hold yogurt well. Just make sure your child knows how to open them the right way up!!
How to use up a big tub of dairy free yogurt
Most dairy free yogurts are sold in large tubs, and once opened they don’t last long. Luckily yogurt can also be used in loads of different recipes. Here are a few ideas to give you some inspiration and stop the leftovers going to waste!
- Yogurt can be stirred through creamy stews or curries, for example in place of Greek yogurt in this easy chicken curry
- Cut a banana in half width ways and insert a lolly stick. Then dip the banana into a pot of yogurt and pop it in the freezer to make an easy and healthy frozen yogurt ice lolly
- Make some frozen yogurt bark; brilliant for breakfast, pudding or a healthier alternative to an ice lolly on a hot day!
- Have a go at making these vegan & gluten free blueberry oat squares, for a nutritious afternoon snack
- You can even use yogurt to make a pizza base; try this easy gluten free version by Becky Excell
I hope you found this post helpful! If you think it would be of use to others then please do share using the social buttons below. If I’ve missed any of your favourite products, let me know in the comments section, and I’ll add them in.
If you’re here because your child has cmpa (cow’s milk protein allergy), you might find these posts useful:
- The basics of cmpa (cow’s milk protein allergy) in babies
- Links to free support & resources available to help allergy parents
- A beginner’s guide to dairy free weaning
- Our favourite allergy friendly recipe books
- Top tips for how to make a successful dairy and egg free cake!
Ingredient lists checked online 23rd September 2022. I have included any yogurts which do not have dairy or soya listed as an ingredient; however some do carry ‘may contain’ warnings. If you are not sure if you or your child can eat products labelled as ‘may contain’ then talk to your medical professional.