String cheese is just as popular in adults as it is in children. But what are the factors that you should take caution of before giving it to your baby?
String cheese is generally safe for babies when made from pasteurized milk, cut up into thin pieces to avoid choking, and given to babies aged 12 months and above.
Are all string cheeses the same? Find out if they are, how much you can give your baby, and how this cheese can make them stronger, below!
Is String Cheese Safe for Babies?
String cheese is generally safe for babies when made from pasteurized milk, cut up into thin pieces (source: California Women, Infants & Children), and given to infants 12 months of age and above.
You can also melt this cheese to make it easier to add to your baby’s food.
String cheese is made from mozzarella cheese and is particularly a favorite among children.
Mozzarella is generally made from pasteurized cow’s milk. It is a soft cheese and is unripened, and therefore should be consumed asap, preferably after production (source: NIH).
However, unlike mozzarella, string cheese is dried out while mozzarella is put in brine or water (source: LuluandSweetPea) This makes it less prone to potential microbial contamination because of the absence of water.
String cheese results from how the mozzarella is processed, not what’s added to it. There is no additive that makes this cheese “stringy”.
Mozzarella is stretched several times until the proteins of the cheese align, and the final product comes out as ropes. This is the string cheese that breaks up as strings when split (source: HuffPost Food & Drink).
Cheeses made from unpasteurized or raw milk have 50–160 times more potential to cause Listeria which is a foodborne illness that can cause mild to severe sickness (source: CDC).
The recommendations regarding the age to introduce mozzarella to infants are conflicting. One source may say you can start giving it at 6 months (source: NHS), while another might say to start at 8 months (source: Mayo Clinic).
Since string cheese is made from mozzarella, which is also made from cow’s milk, we advise otherwise.
Cow’s milk and milk alternatives are not to be given to babies younger than 12 months.
This is because babies younger than 12 months can be at risk for intestinal bleeding and kidney problems. Cow’s milk contains high levels of proteins that babies this age can’t process yet (source: CDC).
For this reason, to be safe, we recommend not giving string cheese to babies younger than 12 months.
For babies 12 months of age or older, a daily dose of about 2–4 ounces (56.7–113.4 g) may be given (source: USDA).
String cheese can cause choking in children under 4 years of age. This is because it is considerably large for a baby, firm, slick, and the shape is cylindrical (source: USDA).
Cheeses like string cheese are a good source of nutrients for babies. String cheese contains protein, calcium, zinc, and riboflavin among others which are essential for babies.
Infants need protein to support their optimal growth and development, formation of major organs, hormones, antibodies, and important regulatory processes.
When a child eats food that contains calcium, it is deposited directly into their bones from their intestines.
Children also can’t store zinc so it must be supplied in their diets. Zinc also supports the normal growth and development of the baby.
Babies need riboflavin or vitamin B2 especially when they start moving and using their bodies. This vitamin helps utilize energy from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to use for metabolism (source: USDA).
Mozzarella cheese is a good choice to give babies (source: WebMD). Likewise, string cheese is a good selection as well.
How to Cut String Cheese for a Baby
To prevent choking, cut string cheese into short and thin strips instead of cubes or round pieces of cheese, as these shapes can get trapped in babies’ airways (source: USDA).
Choosing the Best String Cheese for a Baby
When choosing string cheese, make sure that the cheese is made from real mozzarella made with pasteurized cheese.
If you find one not made from mozzarella, make sure it is still made from pasteurized milk and not loaded with additives and salt.
High level of salt is not good for babies as it can negatively affect their kidneys.
Some examples of good-quality string cheese are the following:
String cheese is a great snack option for babies older than 12 months and even for adults. I hope this article helps answer your inquiries about giving string cheese to babies.