Although it seems like a pretty harmless food item to give your baby, many new moms and dads ask if it’s OK to give their baby ham. It’s a reasonable question, because as adults we know that ham is not the healthiest of options, but is rather delicious when it’s honey-glazed and spiral cut for Christmas dinner.
When it comes to babies we have to be especially careful on what foods make it into their diet, and which ones get left out, or postponed until later. Ham definitely falls into the category of foods that you probably shouldn’t give your baby, but there’s no explicit harm done if giving them a taste now and then.
Can I Give My Baby Ham? Answer: Yes but in moderation.
Because of the high levels of sodium that are present in ham, you may want to opt for a less salty meat choice for your baby. There are all sorts of meats that will provide a higher level of quality protein to your baby, without so much salt, and with less fat such as lean turkey or chicken, making them better choices.
If you do decide to give your baby ham, be sure to do so in limited quantities. Don’t make a meal out of just ham, be sure to incorporate plenty of fruits and vegetables at mealtime so that your baby doesn’t develop a strong taste for it, preferring it over other healthier foods.
Make Sure It’s Age Appropriate
When determining whether it’s alright to feed your baby ham, it’s always important to consider their age, and at what stage of their development they’re in. Introducing foods too early can have serious consequences on their upbringing and health, so choose accordingly.
At 3 Months
At this time you’ll still be breastfeeding your baby primarily, and therefore you’ll want to make your breast milk as healthy as possible by eating a healthy diet yourself. It’s recommended that you wait until the 6 or 9 month mark before giving your child their first piece of ham, properly portioned so as not to present a choking hazard.
At 6 Months
When your baby is at the six month mark it’s typically OK to let them have some ham, but as explained above, do so in relative moderation, and be sure to incorporate other foods along with it, such as green beans, carrots, potatoes, all properly cooked so they’re easy to chew up.
At 9 Months
By nine months you’ve probably noticed that your child is getting more and more autonomous and will have started preferring some foods over others, in some instances only wanting to eat certain foods. At this stage it’s important not to let them get hooked on unhealthy foods, and you’ll want to be careful with how much ham they consume. If they get a taste for it, they may want it all the time, and even start demanding it. This is true for most yummy tasting, unhealthy foods out there. If you don’t want an obese toddler running around the house, now is the time for input control.
Consider the Source
If you yourself are an eater of ham, it only makes sense that your child will also be eating it. If you have no problem with it, and find it a delicious meat and an experience that you want to share with your offspring, then by all means, feed them ham. It does have nutritional properties that are good in a balanced baby diet, such as protein and other minerals.
But if you stop to consider where ham comes from, and get honest about what it actually provides for your baby, you’ll probably hesitate in feeding them ham, and is likely the reason why you searched for the answer in the first place.
Use the innate knowledge you have as a parent, the core knowledge that led you to this page to realize that ham is probably not the best thing to give your baby. At this young age it’s such a crucial time in their development, and their eating habits and food choices that they will make for the rest of their lives are being programmed by what you’re choosing for them. Choose the right choice so they can lead happier, healthier lives.
In Pulp Fiction
If you’ve seen the movie Pulp Fiction you no doubt remember Jules, the character played by Samuel L. Jackson as not eating bacon because “a pig is a filthy animal”. It’s true that many adults don’t eat pork products because of the finding that bacteria still grow on pork, even after it’s been cooked. This may sway you in a specific direction in regards to whether or not you want to give ham to your baby.
In the Jewish faith, pork is not considered Kosher, the pig being thought of as an unclean animal and not fit for consumption. Even if you’re not Jewish it’s interesting to note that religious texts have gone as far as identifying pork products as unhealthy to eat, and this may push you towards no when it comes to can i give my baby ham?