When can babies eat ricotta cheese?
Fresh ricotta (not ricotta salata or other types of dried and hardened ricotta) may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
Background and origins of ricotta cheese
Soft and sweet, the cheese traditionally hails from Italy, where it is made of whey, a liquid byproduct from producing curds with cow, goat, sheep or water buffalo milk. In the United States, most ricotta is made from cow’s milk. No matter the source, fresh ricotta tends to be much lower in sodium than most cheeses and is safe for babies to eat as soon as they are ready for solids.
Is ricotta cheese healthy for babies?
Yes! Fresh ricotta is high in calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein. Ricotta also offers other key nutrients that babies need to thrive, including vitamin A, selenium, and zinc.
Most types of cheese are high in sodium and not appropriate for young babies. Not fresh ricotta! Naturally low in sodium and soft and smooth in texture, it is truly a perfect first food for babies.
When shopping for fresh ricotta (or any cheese, really), look for the following:
- Low sodium (less than 100mg per serving for babies younger than 12 months old)
- Made from whole milk
Is ricotta a choking hazard for babies?
No. Fresh ricotta is not a common choking hazard for babies thanks to its soft, smooth texture. Harder forms of ricotta such as ricotta salata could pose a risk. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment, stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals.
Is ricotta a common allergen?
Yes. Fresh ricotta is a dairy product, and all dairy products are common food allergens. Research shows that the majority of children with cow’s milk allergy will outgrow it by age 6 and many babies with milder symptoms of milk protein allergy (which can show up as painless blood in stool) are able to successfully reintroduce cow’s milk as early as their first birthday, with the guidance of their doctors.