If you read my blog on ‘How to Choose the Best Yoghurt’ last week, you would no doubt agree with me how difficult it can be to choose the right yoghurt amidst all the clever marketing tactics used by food manufacturers. The yoghurt sector is a growing industry, so is the demand for healthier products.
There has been a huge spike in the number of squeezy yoghurt pouches on the supermarket shelves over the last few years. The majority of them are targeted at kids with colourful packaging, popular cartoon characters and health claims promising better gut health and stronger bones.
This week, I am looking specifically at kids yoghurt and will discuss 5 major considerations when it comes to choosing the best yoghurts for your little ones.
Fat Content Not Always the Biggest Drawcard
Children below 2 years old should be consuming full-fat dairy products as they need the extra fat, energy and nutrients for growth and development. Therefore, the total fat content of yoghurt is not a major consideration when choosing yoghurts for this age group. Once the child is over the age of 2, they can be switched over to low-fat dairy products. Overall, it is still important to limit saturated fat intake as this type of fat increases the risk of heart disease so choose yoghurts with the lowest saturated fat content.
- Tamar Valley All Natural Kids Yoghurt has the highest total fat and saturated fat content, more than double the amount when compared to other kids yoghurt. The total fat content is not a major concern for kids under 2, but the high saturated fat content is certainly concerning.
- The amount of saturated fat in the Brownes Mini Yoghurt is on the higher end of the recommended range.
- Calci Yum Strawberry Yoghurt (70g pouch) has the lowest overall fat and saturated fat content in the kids yoghurt category, followed by Yoplait Petit Miam Yoghurt and Vaalia My First Yoghurt.
Sugar is One to Watch Out For
Sugar is present in all dairy-based products as a naturally occurring sugar ‘lactose’ plus any added sugar. Sugar can be added in the form of fruit puree, fruit juice or actual sugar. The sugar content on the nutrition information panel is a combination of lactose and any added sugar so it can be tricky to determine the actual amount of sugar added. As a rule of thumb, try and avoid the product if sugar is listed as the top 3 ingredients on the list.
- Tamar Valley All Greek Kids Yoghurt has the lowest sugar content (60% less sugar than most kids yoghurt). As the label suggests, it does not contain any added sugar. The sugar listed comes from lactose and fruit.
- The top 3 yoghurts containing the highest amount of sugar are (highest listed first): Rafferty’s Garden Yoghurt Pouch, Vaalia My First Yoghurt and Calci Yum Yoghurt (Vanilla and Banana).
Just to demonstrate how deceiving food labels can be:
- The label on the Rafferty’s Garden yoghurt pouch says ‘all natural’ and ‘yoghurt, fruit + nothing else’. But do not be fooled, sugar is the second ingredient on the list!
- Vaalia My First Yoghurt is marketed as a first yoghurt for babies with ‘no added sugar’, but it has the second highest amount of sugar amongst all the kids yoghurt (sugar from added fruit puree and fruit juice). It is not necessarily the best first yoghurt to introduce to your baby.
Not Always a Great Source of Calcium
Yoghurt is a great source of calcium for growing bones. However, the amount of calcium present in kids yoghurts can vary hugely from 93mg/100g to 304mg/100g. In accordance to the Food Standards Code, a product is considered a ‘good source of calcium’ when it contains no less than 25% of the recommended dietary intake for calcium.
- For babies below 12 months old, all the kids yoghurt in the market are a great source of calcium.
- For children between 1-3 years old, all kids yoghurt (except Rafferty’s Garden Yoghurt Pouch) provide a good source for calcium.
- For kids between 4-8 years old, Calci Yum, Yoplait Petit Miam, Coles Yoghurt Pouch and Brownes Mini Yoghurt (Natural, Strawberry, Banana Honey) are considered a good source of calcium.
Reading the Nutrition Information Panel
The best way to choose the healthiest product is to do some detective work and read the nutrition information panel. Here’s a general guide to help you choose the best kids yoghurt:
|Saturated Fat||Less than 3g|
|Sugar||Less than 15g|
|Calcium||More than 100mg|
Kids Yoghurt Not More Superior
While yoghurt pouches offer a convenient and no mess option for kids, offering them regularly can hinder the child’s food literacy and sensory experience. Yoghurt in pouches tends to be smoother and runnier than yoghurt in a tub (with the exception of Tamar Valley All Natural Kids Yoghurt). The experience of eating from a spoon and tub or bowl allows the child to learn about the food they are eating through visual, colour and textural cues. Sucking from the pouch is not ideal for kids to develop their chewing skills so if you have to use the pouch, try offering it from a spoon rather than straight from the pouch.
The nutrients and ingredients present in kids yoghurt is not much more superior than regular yoghurts. Just because it specifically says ‘all natural’ or ‘for growing bodies’ does not mean they are better for your child. Regular yoghurts offer the same benefits and may even be a fraction of the cost. The bottom line is you don’t have to only offer kids yoghurt to your child. Read my previous blog on how to choose the best yoghurt.
My Top 3 Kids Yoghurt Recommendations
- Calci Yum Strawberry Yoghurt Pouch (70g) – other flavours have higher fat and slightly more sugar. Note the strawberry variety tub has double the amount of fat and saturated fat.
- Yoplait Petit Miam Pouch (70g) – all flavours are fine.
- Tamar Valley All Natural Yoghurt Pouch (110g) – great option for children under 2 years old