Cheese can be an important part of your baby's diet and a healthy snack option. However, you need to be aware of potential safety concerns that come along with your baby eating cheese, as well as the best timing and circumstances for introducing it to your baby's diet.
Cheese is a good source of calcium, which can help your baby develop strong teeth and bones. It also counts toward the 1/3 cup of dairy that your baby needs to have every day beginning around eight months of age. One half ounce of cheese contains her recommended dairy intake.
It is safe for your baby to have cheese beginning around six months of age. Although he cannot have cow's milk until he is one year old, the culturing process involved in making cheese makes the milk protein safe for your baby to digest. Be sure not to offer your baby cheese made with unpasteurized milk, because it may contain bacteria that can make your baby sick. Cut the cheese into finger-tip-size pieces and supervise your baby eating it in order to prevent choking.
Watch your baby for signs of reactions to the cheese. Signs of an allergy can include rash, vomiting and diarrhea. Signs of lactose intolerance occur 30 minutes to two hours after eating cheese or other dairy products, and symptoms include bloating, gas and diarrhea. If your baby has these symptoms after eating cheese, tell her doctor and remove cheese and other dairy products from her diet to see if the symptoms improve.
If your baby has a known milk allergy or intolerance, talk to his doctor before giving him cheese. Talk to your baby's doctor if he has eczema. Keep in mind that if you offer your baby cheese and he does not seem to like it, try offering it again later or try another flavor of cheese. It may take a few tries for your baby to eat cheese.