Go ahead. Feed your baby deli meat, but with care. Bologna. Salami. Turkey. Mortadella. Deli meat is a quick, tasty, and easy meal for busy parents to prepare for their babies. But is it healthy? How do I prepare it best? What are the dangers?
Read on to best prepare your baby for a deli meat meal you will both feel great about.
Convenient to Prepare
A wonderful feature of deli meat turkey is its ease in preparation. Unlike buying a whole turkey at the butcher, deli turkey is ready to eat — no cooking necessary. As a busy parent, any opportunity to avoid cooking is a welcome one! So instead of cooking or paying an arm and a leg for takeout, deli meat is a worthy choice. You can prepare a nutritious deli meat meal in a matter of minutes.
Simply cut the meat into small chunks and slices and add to other healthy foods. Top a cracker with sliced turkey and a piece of cheese, for example. You can also mix it with fruit or vegetables, or even yogurt. Use it as a quick and easy pizza topping, or drop in a tomato soup. Mix roast beef with your pasta and tomato sauce for a quick and easy spaghetti bolognese. The possibilities are truly endless! Have fun and experiment. Your child will be glad you did.
Safe and Healthy? Depends.
It is perfectly safe and healthy to feed your baby deli meat. Just make sure to keep a few important factors in mind. First, ensure your baby is old enough. A well-recommended age to begin feeding your baby deli meat is between 6-8 months. Indeed, you want to be sure they have enough teeth and the chewing ability to avoid choking.
Second, make sure the meat is diced into small, easy to eat chunks or slices. Again, your baby is still developing their chewing and swallowing skills.
Third, make sure you are feeding him or her the proper kind of deli meat. Indeed, not all meat is created equal. Some have much greater nutritional value than others. For example, heavy beef meats, such as salami, bologna, or mortadella, are very high in fat and sodium.
While fatty foods are generally considered good for a growing baby, you want to avoid overdoing it through the meat. Instead, look to fish, breast milk, or formula, so your baby gets other essential nutrients as well.
Consider Lean Deli Meats
On the other hand, leaner deli meats such as honey ham or roast beef are a better choice. They contain quality nutrients like protein but less sodium and fat than other beefy varieties. One of the best choices you can make for deli meat for your baby, however, is turkey breast. Turkey breast deli meat contains a plethora of health benefits for you and your baby. For one, turkey is low in fat.
While fat is good generally for babies, they would be better off getting it through fish or milk. Turkey contains other wonderful nutrients, however, such as selenium and vitamin B6. Selenium is a wonder mineral used to improve the immune system. You will be glad to give your baby a head start here, especially because it means fewer sick days! Vitamin B6 is great for energy. Of course, your little one is probably already bursting with energy. However, the energy they get from B6 will keep them sustainably energized healthily, so they learn and grow faster.
Regarding energy levels, their energy is balanced by the tryptophan in the turkey, which will aid in their sleep. We all understand how turkey makes us sleepy after a hearty Thanksgiving meal. Cold cut turkey, henceforth, has a similar effect. While the B6 creates sustainable energy for your baby, the tryptophan will help regulate its sleep. Therefore, your young one will have no trouble getting the beauty sleep it needs to stay energized throughout the day. As a bonus, you may have more luck keeping them asleep throughout the night!
Another wonderful health benefit of deli turkey is its low glycemic index. The glycemic index is a value assigned to foods based on the speed in which they increase blood glucose levels. The lower on the index means, the slower the increase in glucose levels, which means the healthier the food. Foods low on the GI, like turkey, promote a slow and steady release of glucose and maintain good glucose control. Slow GI foods are great for developing prevention of blood-sugar issues like diabetes. They are also good for managing high LDL in their cholesterol. All in all, turkey is a terrific option for healthy deli meat for your baby.
Type of Deli Meat to Feed Your Baby
One final excellent way to ensure your baby is eating the healthiest deli meat is to buy organic and uncured. Organic meat must be raised without antibiotics or added growth hormones. The animals also must have had outdoor access. With these factors, the food must pass a certification process. Organic meats are, therefore, a bit more expensive, but healthier. People eating organic foods are less likely to contract diseases from their food and more likely to retain their nutrients. Overall, organic foods are the way to go.
Cured meats are processed using unhealthy chemicals such as nitrates and nitrites. Nitrates, when mixed with bacteria in the mouth, have the potential to convert to nitrites. Nitrites are potentially harmful if turned into nitrosamines. Studies find nitrosamines to increase risks of cancer potentially and hurt heart health. Don’t worry too much — for these effects of taking place, you need to consume more than the usual amount.
One way you can reduce the potential of nitrosamines forming is to consume vitamin C along with cured meats. If cooking, cook at lower heats. The best way, however, is to choose meats without these chemicals. They will be packaged as “uncured,” or may simply say “no nitrates or nitrites” on the label.
Besides nitrites, there are a few other points of caution to consider when buying deli meat for your baby. First, look out for additional filters in the meat used as preservatives. Generally, fillers add no nutritional value to the food. Second, watch out for any food allergies. Although uncommon, if you find your baby reacting allergically to eating the meat, stop immediately and notify your doctor. Lastly, look out for listeria. Listeria is an infection that harms the immune system, and sometimes bones, joints and the abdomen or chest. Studies have found the listeria germ to derive from the consumption of deli meat. Although rare, still make sure to take precautions necessary to avoid it. With deli meat, you can heat it before serving to kill any latent bacteria.
With the properly taken precautions, deli meat is a convenient and healthy part of any baby’s diet. Its healthy varieties are a great source of promoting good energy levels and good immunity in your child. As long as you choose the right kind, you can rest your baby is in for a tasty, healthy, easy meal.