It’s no secret that milk and dairy products are the most important food sources of calcium, vitamin B2, protein and easily digestible fat. However, it is quite difficult for infants with their immature gastrointestinal tract (hereinafter referred to as the gastrointestinal tract) to assimilate heavy milk protein, and therefore, the use of whole cow’s milk in the first year of life is not recommended.
Here, fermented milk products come to the rescue, which are much easier to digest due to the fact that under the influence of the corresponding enzymes of lactic acid bacteria in the process of fermentation, a partial breakdown of protein, as well as lactose, occurs. In addition, fermented milk products are valued for their ability to suppress the growth of pathogenic flora in the large intestine, increase immunity, improve intestinal motility, etc.
Experts agree that in the first year of life it is advisable to introduce the baby to cottage cheese and baby kefir. However, experts differ on the question “when to include fermented milk products in the infant’s diet and in what quantities” . Someone recommends to introduce them as the first complementary food (since they more than other products resemble breast milk (or its substitute) in composition, to which the baby is accustomed), someone at 8-9 months (since the protein of cow’s milk is considered quite heavy product and may cause allergic and pseudo-allergic reactions).
As for the quantity, the “Program for the optimization of feeding of children of the first year of life in the Russian Federation” (FGAU “National Medical Research Center of Children’s Health” of the Ministry of Health of Russia, 2019 ) established the following consumption rates for fermented milk products:
- cottage cheese: 10-40 g. in 8 months., 50 g. in 9-12 months;
- kefir and other non-adapted fermented milk drinks for children: 200 ml. at 8-12 months
Fermented milk products are introduced into the toddler’s diet as well as other products, starting with 1/2 teaspoon and gradually increasing the amount. For the first fermented milk complementary foods, you should use baby cottage cheese, kefir, biolact, etc. with natural taste (no additives). At the same time, the packaging must have a corresponding mark about the age from which the use of this product is recommended.
However, it is much more useful to prepare fermented milk products for the first feeding at home, since the fresher the fermented milk product, the better, and finding a one-day children’s curd in the store is quite problematic.
How to make baby yogurt at home
In order to make yogurt, we need milk and sourdough.
For the first fermented milk supplement, it is better to take normalized UHT milk. It is less beneficial than fresh whole milk (since many natural vitamins and minerals are missing), but it is also less harmful (milk is an excellent breeding ground for bacteria, and they are absent in UHT milk). You can take fortified baby milk.
For starter, some use store-bought kefir or yogurt. For baby food, I would not risk so much, since the composition of the store product (including the number of bacteria, the milk originally used, etc.) at the time of preparation, as well as the conditions of its storage, are unknown to us. It is much safer to buy in a pharmacy or a specialized store the appropriate starter culture intended for the preparation of fermented milk products for infants (in particular, “Narine”, “Evita”, “Own yogurt”, “Vivo”, bifidumbacterin, lactobacterin, etc.). For the first feeding I used the Vivo “Bifivit” and “Acidolact” starter cultures – they are intended for children from 6 months.
Next, we follow the instructions that come with the starter and get the finished product. The essence is the same everywhere:
- We pour boiling water over all the dishes that come into contact with milk and sourdough. Our goal is to create the conditions for beneficial bacteria to multiply, so before creating them, you need to get rid of bacteria that should not multiply. Otherwise, we will not get the most useful product.
- We heat UHT milk up to 37-40 °. Usually a sachet of sourdough is designed for 1-3 liters (I take about 2 liters: my daughter drinks 200 ml for 3 days, I drink the rest myself), while the less milk, the more sour the finished product will turn out. If there is no thermometer, then you should take out some milk with a clean spoon and drip it on your wrist – it should be slightly warm. I use a children’s heat-sensitive spoon to check (it gets a little lighter).
If not UHT milk is used, it must first be boiled and then cooled to 37-40 °.
- Add starter culture to milk, mix thoroughly. If you nevertheless decide to use a ready-made fermented milk drink as a starter, then it is added in the amount of 3 tablespoons per 1 liter of milk.
- Close the container with milk and sourdough tightly and put it in a warm place for 8-10 hours. We need to keep the temperature of milk and sourdough at 37-40 ° C all this time.
- When the milk thickens (Photo 1), it is necessary to mix the resulting fermented milk drink and send it to the refrigerator. Some starter cultures are suitable for re-fermentation – for this, immediately put 3 tablespoons in a separate glass jar scalded with boiling water and close the lid tightly.
The shelf life of such a biolact is about 5 days at a temperature of + 4 °, but for baby food it is not recommended to use the product after three days from the date of preparation.
The most difficult moment in the cooking process is maintaining the required temperature for 8-10 hours. There are various ways to accomplish this task. The easiest one is to use a technique specially invented for the preparation of fermented milk products – a yogurt maker or a slow cooker with the “Yogurt” function.
Cooking yoghurt in a yogurt maker or slow cooker
Warmed milk with sourdough is poured into special containers for yoghurt, which are placed in the bowl of a yogurt maker or multicooker. Next, the appropriate cooking time is set, after which the finished fermented milk drink is sent to the refrigerator.
To reduce the amount of utensils used to a minimum, I heat the milk immediately in the multicooker bowl (in the “Warm-up” mode for 7 minutes for 1 liter of milk, 10 minutes for 2 liters), then add the starter culture, stir and set the “ Yogurt”.
If there is no “Yogurt” mode in the multicooker, you can use the “Heating” mode. To do this, milk heated to 37-40 ° (with the leaven added to it) is poured into cups, which are then covered with lids (or tightened with cling film / foil) and placed in the multicooker bowl. Next, pour warm water into the multicooker bowl and turn on the “Heating” mode for 15 minutes, after which the multicooker turns off. Leave the yogurt to ferment under a closed lid for 8-10 hours, then put the thickened product in the refrigerator.
In the absence of special equipment, you can use a thermos – it will also help maintain the required temperature. If a thermos is not available, wrap the container with milk and sourdough in a towel (blanket, down jacket, etc.) and put it in a warm place (for example, to a radiator or on a heated floor).
How to cook baby cottage cheese at home
The process of making cottage cheese is largely the same as making yogurt. The main difference is that it is necessary to take the sourdough for the cottage cheese (I take Vivo “Cottage cheese” – it has an age limit of +6 months). Next, we repeat all the points for preparing yogurt mentioned above (including, you can set aside 3 tablespoons of thickened milk for re-cooking cottage cheese, since the finished cottage cheese will not be suitable for this purpose), but we do not put the fermented milk in the refrigerator, but heat it in a saucepan ( or in a water bath) on low heat for 30-50 minutes, without bringing to a boil. (since I cook cottage cheese in a multicooker bowl, I just put it on the “Heating” mode). When curd flakes form in the fermented milk, remove the pan from the stove and let it cool slightly.
We transfer the finished cottage cheese to a plastic or glass container, close the lid and put it in the refrigerator, where it can be stored for up to three days. The resulting whey can be used to make pancakes by adding flour, egg, sugar and salt.
Fermented milk products should be offered as a snack 30-60 minutes before meals, or as a separate meal. If desired, you can add fruit puree to yogurt (or cottage cheese) just before use.
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