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Is yoghurt safe when pregnant, breastfeeding and starting solids?

Heavily pregnant woman eating yoghurtIt can be confusing to work out which foods are safe when pregnant, breastfeeding, or starting your baby on solids.

It seems that everywhere you turn, someone is saying “No! You can’t eat that while pregnant!” or “Are you sure your baby won’t be affected through your milk?” or “Can you really give them that yet?”

Here we answer the question about eating yoghurt during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and starting your bub on solids.

Is yoghurt safe during pregnancy?

Dairy foods, including yoghurt, are encouraged as a healthy choice during pregnancy as they are the most readily available and absorbable source of dietary calcium.

In line with dietary guidelines for all adults, pregnant women are encouraged to make the majority of their dairy choices reduced fat.

But there is some confusion about the appropriateness of yoghurt as a food during pregnancy. Women are advised to avoid certain foods during pregnancy and this includes soft cheeses, soft serve ice-cream, as well as unpasteurised dairy foods. These foods may carry the listeria bacteria which can increase the risk of an infection called listeriosis, which may be harmful to the growing foetus.

Pasteurised dairy foods, which include commercial milks and yoghurts, are safe during pregnancy as long as you have checked the use-by-date. It’s important to not confuse the ‘good’ probiotic bacteria, those found in yoghurts, with harmful listeria bacteria.

Eating a healthy diet when breastfeeding

Having a baby is a very exciting time for everyone in the family. It is also an extremely hectic time and one where parents can be sleep deprived and very tired. But you need to be just as nutritionally-aware in choosing food for yourself as you are for your child.

You may also be trying to lose the few extra kilos that seem so hard to lose since the birth. However, it is not the time to follow a super strict diet that leaves you feeling even more fatigued.

During breastfeeding, mothers require slightly more nutrients than women not breastfeeding, so it’s important to eat regular, nutritious meals and snacks to meet your energy (kilojoule) needs for making breast milk and feeding. Choosing a variety of foods will help meet both you and your baby’s nutritional needs.

Australian Healthy Eating Guidelines for breastfeeding women recommend choosing these foods each day:

•    5-7 serves of bread, cereals, rice, pasta or noodles
•    7 serves of vegetables or legumes
•    5 serves of fruit
•    2 serves of meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts or legumes
•    2 serves of dairy: milk, yoghurt or cheese

(Fats and oils are supplied from the amount used with other foods, so these aren’t included separately.)

Dairy foods, including yoghurt, are encouraged as a healthy choice during breastfeeding.

Including yoghurt in your meal plans means you not only increase your calcium and protein levels, you’ll also benefit from the ‘friendly’ probiotic bacteria too.

More tips to help new mums stay healthy

  • Easy does it. Take the pressure off yourself to be perfect. It is a huge adjustment having a baby at home. Stress less, get as much sleep as you can and eat healthy foods that are good for you and you enjoy eating.
  • Plan ahead: plan the week’s menu, write a shopping list and delegate the responsibility of shopping and cooking to family and friends who are kind enough to offer help. Stocking the fridge and pantry with healthy, nutritious foods and snacks makes it easier for you to eat well and lay down the foundation for healthy eating for your child for life.
  • Choose healthy snacks that fill you up. Yoghurt for example helps ensure adequate protein and calcium and, like other low GI foods, keep you feeling fuller for longer plus has the additional benefits of probiotics.
  • Make physical activity part of your day. Invest in some good walking shoes and a functional pram and take yourself and your baby for a daily walk. Or take advantage of the crèche facilities at a local pool or gym and have a swim or walk on the treadmill.
  • Get help if you need it. If you want to find out more about what you and your family need to eat, consult an Accredited Practicing Dietitian.

Is yoghurt good for babies and toddlers?

Reduced fat milks and skim milks are not recommended for children under two years of age. So fat-free and low-fat yoghurts are not recommended until your child is two years of age.

But there are plenty of suitable whole milk yoghurts available for children under the age of two.

Family foods made with fat-free or low-fat yoghurts can be shared with children under two years of age however.

– this article was kindly supplied by Karen Inge, APD, Dietitian 

Image credit: fmarsicano/123RF Stock Photo

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