8 of the Best Yogurts for Kids

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on August 5, 2010

Post image for 8 of the Best Yogurts for Kids

After receiving positive feedback for my Best Cereals post, I decided to create an ongoing series for different product categories. Today we are tackling yogurt.

Going down the yogurt aisle can be very confusing for parents. How can you tell the difference between the natural sugar in milk and the added sugars? How much calcium should yogurt have? Is organic essential?

So I developed some general criteria, looked around and picked some yogurts I really like. I’m sure I missed some great products along the way so feel free to leave the ones you like in the comments.

Criteria
There are five important factors in choosing yogurt: sugar content, added ingredients, calcium, live and active cultures and taste (of course).

Sugar: Because milk already contains natural sugar in the form of lactose, it can be difficult to tell how much added sugar is in the product. The best thing to do is to compare the sugars in the plain version (if it’s available) to the flavored one. So if the flavored product has 26g of sugar and the plain has 13g the product would contain 13g of added sugar.

In general, plain yogurt and milk has about 12g of sugar per 8 ounces. So that means 4 ounces has about 6g and 6 ounces has about 9g. After examining a number of products the following cut offs for total sugars seem reasonable. 8oz: 26g or less, 6oz: 20g or less and 4oz: 13g or less.

Tip: Flavors like vanilla tend to have less sugar than fruity flavors and fat-free yogurt usually has more sugar than low fat or whole.

Added ingredients: Watch out for artificial colors, preservatives and filler ingredients that make for less yogurt in the cup. Look for yogurts without artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup. Just plain old sugar will do.

Live & Active Cultures: You want to make sure that the yogurt you choose contains “live & active cultures,” which are also called probiotics. If you see the Live & Active Culture seal from the Yogurt Association, you know the product contains adequate amounts.

The large intestine needs healthy, “good” bacteria to thrive and help fight disease. These live bacteria also help breakdown lactose so people with lactose intolerance may be able to enjoy yogurt.

Calcium: The smaller the serving size, the less calcium the yogurt will contain. Shoot for at least 15% Calcium for 4 oz (150mg), 20% for 6 oz (200mg) and 30% for 8 oz (300mg).

Fat and organic: Kids under two need full fat dairy products for optimal growth and brain development so choose whole yogurt for them. People over two can go with low fat or fat-free yogurt (3g of fat or less).

I didn’t include organic in the criteria. Generally, I recommend full fat yogurt be organic but leave it optional for lower fat varieties. For more details see Is Organic Milk Worth the Price?

Yogurts that fit the bill

1. Plain Yogurt (any brand): You don’t need me to tell you that plain is the healthiest choice for yogurt. I highly recommend parents start their babies on plain whole organic yogurt instead of the flavored kind and keep them on it.

I made the mistake of offering my daughter sweetened yogurt and she looked at me like I had two heads when I tried to give her plain again.

It’s never too late to make plain yogurt a staple in your house. Cindy at Fix Me a Snack has some great tips on how to doctor up plain yogurt to suit your family’s taste.

2. Plain Greek Yogurt (any brand): Greek Yogurt is very popular right now. It is similar to regular yogurt but the extra liquid is strained out so it is creamier and thicker in texture. It also contains more protein and active cultures. The only downside is it contains less calcium.

3. Yo Kids Organic Low Fat Yogurt:
Stoneyfield Farm wins high marks for their yogurt made especially for kids. For a 4 ounce serving it contains 13g of sugar, 1g of fat, 20% DV of calcium and 25% DV of vitamin D. It contains beet juice for color and organic sugar/juice as the sweetener.

052159090036

4. Yoplait Kids: : YoPlait has a nice little product for kids. For a 4oz serving it contains 13g of sugar, 2g of fat, 1g of fiber, 20% DV of calcium and 10% DV of vitamin D. Like Yo Kids it contains beet juice for color and sugar as the sweetener. It also contains modified corn starch and inulin which adds some fiber.

kids_nut1_pht

5. Trader Joes Organic Low Fat Yogurt: This is a great yogurt with a creamy taste and wins for the least amount of sugar for 4 ounces. It has 12g of sugar, 3g of fat, 2g of fiber and 15% DV of calcium (less calcium than Yoplait Kids and Yo Kids). Sugar is the sweetener and it’s made with inulin and pectin for added fiber.

6. Ronnybrook European Style Yogurt: Before you get too excited about this one, you should know that it is only sold in New York. I have not tasted it but it looks and sounds amazing. Their 8 ounce non fat vanilla maple contains only 7g of added sugar and 35% DV for calcium. Their vanilla flavors don’t appear to have any added sugar. If you are in NY take a look!

7. Strauss Family Creamery Organic Yogurt: As kids get older they will need more calcium and will be able to eat 6-8 ounce servings of yogurt. Strauss organic yogurts have a very short ingredient list. It’s organic yogurt sweetened with evaporated cane juice and vanilla extract. For an 8 ounce serving of non fat vanilla, it contains 25g of sugar and 45% DV for calcium (that’s 450mg!).

454a7831a844c

8. Chobani Greek Yogurt: For a 6 ounce serving this yogurt contains 17g of sugar, 14g of protein, 3g of fat and 15% DV of calcium. It’s short on calcium but high in protein. The sweeteners used include evaporated cane juice, strawberries, bananas and juice for color.

rasp

Now that we have cereal and yogurt done, let me know what other product categories you would like to see reviewed.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Merri Ann August 5, 2010 at 7:45 am

I’ve always put mashed bananas in plain yogurt to make it more appealing for the kids. I always serve it with a side dish of berries (that they usually add to the yogurt) and some nuts (they usually add these also after asking me to cut them up).

I would really like to see you do a similar type post about cheese. I use cheese sticks w/grape tomatos, fruit, and crackers as a lunch for picnics and I recently had someone tell me that they thought I was making a huge mistake for introducing this to my kids as a meal. I would love to know your opinion about it (I still think it’s a good lunch). My criteria for picking out a good product is … organic, reduced fat, and dye-free.

Thanks Maryann.

Reply

OmnivorousMom August 5, 2010 at 7:50 am

Nice to see Straus on the list! I wrote about our experience feeding our baby daughter Straus Whole Milk Plain Yogurt here: http://omnivorouschild.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/bring-on-the-mush/
Watching her body quiver from the tang while gobbling up more is something I will never forget. Seven years later, it is still her favorite!

Reply

Jenny August 5, 2010 at 8:50 am

We eat a lot of yogurt, so I buy the quart size containers. We like Dannon vanilla flavor, then add our own goodies. What my kids don’t know is that I buy a container of plain, and a container of vanilla, then mix them together. That way we get half the sugar, but it still tastes sweet. With some bananas and berries added to it, nobody notices.
Oh, and I would love to see a post on cheese too. We also have cheese sticks or cubes with fruits and veggies fairly often. My family grew up eating that way in the summer.

Reply

Amy August 5, 2010 at 9:41 am

Luckily we have no problems with plain yogurt. However, we do on occasion get the yobaby meals (I feel better giving him more vegetables & since they are on the bottom, I treat that bit like a treat after the plain yogurt on top.) My son alos likes plain keifr/keifer.

Reply

CJ August 5, 2010 at 1:32 pm

This is is a great addition to your post about cereals. Keep it coming! How about a post on crackers and store bought cookies?

Reply

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD August 5, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Yes. I like the cracker idea. Thanks!

Reply

lori August 5, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Yes, I have tried my hardest to keep to plain yogurt. We also buy Oikos Greek Yogurt. How about a post on the best Popsicles for summer? Or granola bars? Or pretzels?

Reply

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD August 5, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Great ideas. Thanks!

Reply

Cindy August 5, 2010 at 5:04 pm

I’ve been reading this in bits and pieces all day. (Darn children keep interrupting.) But just now noticed the link to Fix Me A Snack Yogurt 101. Thanks MaryAnn!

Reply

Meal Plan Mom (Brenda) August 5, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I have been so frustrated and confused by all the different options there particularly when it comes to figuring out the sugars in the yogurt. I had at least figured out how to look for the added sugars (and HFCS) in yogurts and avoid those. Or the “light” yogurts that put sugar subistutes instead–ugh! My sis-in-law confused me further by saying she was avoiding ALL yogurt because it is so high in sugar (she was referring even to the natural lactose)–I thought was was a bit off base but didn’t know enough then to rebuff her! :-)

In and of itself, I think yogurt is a healthy part of my family’s diet and I’ve tried re-introducing plain yogurt to the kids. We’ve got a long way to go but we’ll get there! We have recently discovered the Simply Gogurt too…

Reply

Meg August 6, 2010 at 8:40 pm

My older daughter (who started on flavored yogurt) will eat plain yogurt if I sweeten it with honey. While my younger daughter will eat plain, no problem. I switched to plain a while ago and had to sweeten it with honey, but after eating it for awhile I don’t need any honey and flavored yogurt taste way too sweet. Just took awhile for my taste buds to make the switch :)

Reply

Rhonda August 12, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Chobani also makes a kids yogurt:
http://www.chobani.com/products/c/champions
It comes in a 4 pack of smaller 4oz cups that is already blended and has a similar nutrition profile as the full size fruit on the bottom variety. We send those to preschool with our girls because they are easier to manage and a better size for the little ones. Their school requires that all snacks come in the original packaging so they can monitor for allergens in the classroom, so doling out smaller portions doesn’t work. The girls do like and eat plain yogurt, but I don’t mind them having the occasional sweetened/flavored variety as long as it doesn’t contain HFCS or dyes.

Reply

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD August 12, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Thanks for the suggestion Rhonda!

Reply

Shari August 18, 2010 at 9:03 am

I would be over the moon if someone would put together a list of typical (boxed-gasp, I know) grocery items we all buy of the items that are not as bad as the others. Such as Darigold milk if you can’t afford organic (cheap at Target, btw). Or Dannon yogurts (which don’t use HFCS). Or Post Shredded wheat over Kellogg’s Shredded wheat-ya know what I mean? They have a dirty dozen list for produce out there, can’t someone make an “eat this, not that” for us regular folks who can’t always buy Kashi, Cascadian Farms, Horizon, and other $$ staple food items? Which brand eggs are the least ghastly-none of them have healthy looking yolks and many come in styrofoam so do I have to keep paying 4.00 p/dzn at the Farmer’s market?
I try to make our foods/snacks from scratch and soak/ferment foods when I can, but my kids get embarrassed when the only cereal to feed their friend is homemade granola or soaked oatmeal.

Reply

Kerri Hillis January 11, 2011 at 4:59 pm

This is a great article and so helpful. Thanks so much for your research and interest in all our kids’ healths!

Reply

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD January 11, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Your welcome. Thanks for reading!

Reply

Ana February 22, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Thank you for this article! I am always overwhelmed by all the choices. Lately I have been forgetfull about buying my daughter her yogurt pops at Trader Joes’. All we had was some plain greek non-fat yogurt (which she doesn’t like). We ended up putting some in the blender w/ half a banana, 2 cups frozen yogurt, half squeezed orange… It turned out yummy and not too bitter.

Reply

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD February 23, 2011 at 9:32 am

Great idea Ana. Will try that the next time we are out of flavored yogurt!

Reply

Mary Boudreault September 24, 2011 at 9:05 am

Maryann: I have a dairy allergy, and used to buy the Trader Joe’s Goat yogurt. I am now trying the Belly Fat Cure and am trying to find a non – dairy yogurt that is also low in sugar…..less than 5 grams /per serving??? Any suggestions?

Reply

Abolade Simeon October 3, 2011 at 9:13 am

Very helpful comment thank You

Reply

Jaycee January 24, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Can you evaluate, for toddlers, the top choices for cheese?
Thank You.

Reply

sarah February 28, 2012 at 8:17 am

My daughter likes to make layered parfaits in glass jars for her lunch–

frozen berries
plain yogurt
maple syrup
plain yogurt
then a baggie with granola to sprinkle on top at lunch.

She likes the jars cause you can see all the yummy layers. This has gotten her from vanilla or strawberry yogurt to liking plain.

Reply

tracy June 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm

any comparison on wallababy organic yogurt?

Reply

Tara October 15, 2012 at 10:00 am

So does the Yoplait kids have the live cultures? I couldn’t find it on their packaging?

Reply

Eilat Hotels October 17, 2012 at 7:32 am

Remorseful i have missed your blogrollage involving me, Suzi. you happen to be now inside the move!

Reply

julie December 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Great post about yogurt and cereal. I would love to see a post about crackers and/or pretzels. Thanks!

Reply

Katie January 11, 2013 at 1:17 am

The only yogurt I eat anymore is the Cascade Fresh brand. It has no gelatin, and zero added sugar–all the sweetness comes from the fruit, and it tastes amazing!

Reply

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD January 11, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Thanks Katie. I will keep my eyes peeled for it!

Reply

tracy February 19, 2013 at 9:04 pm

love chobani and my son is a banilla fanatic. Would love to see a post about which fruit snacks are best. I am trying to find a brand without artificial color, and not having any luck.

Reply

Lynn September 5, 2013 at 3:46 pm

I like the fact that someone researched this but noticed that GMO’s weren’t taken into account. The only yogurt I feed my family is Stonyfield..they’re currently in the process of getting verified with the NON-GMO project! Say NO to GMO’s! By the way..Chobani just had a large recall because its nasty stuff!

Reply

Khadija Anderson December 9, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Hi, As a parent and childcare provider, I would like to weigh in here. Since 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar, saying that the “best” 4 oz. yogurt with 13 grams which is over 3 teaspoons of sugar is healthy, is just wrong. I would suggest plain yogurt always. I have never in 15 years had a child turn up their nose at plain yogurt. If you have succeeded in conditioning your child to needing sugar, I suggest adding a bit of fruit if you have to.

Reply

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD December 9, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Not all of that 13g of sugar is from added sugars because yogurt contains natural sugar lactose. If you look at plain yogurt you will see it contains sugar as well.

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 10 trackbacks }