Can I Feed My Baby Bacon?
YouTube and social media sites are littered with videos and memes of food wrapped in bacon. If you can eat it, it gets wrapped in bacon. There may even be non-food items that get wrapped in bacon. As one of America’s favorite foods, it seems folks are determined to find a way to put bacon in every meal and snack throughout the day. It’s a small wonder. Bacon is one of the most delicious things in creation.
Food is also a social activity. So we want to share the tasty goodness with the people in our lives, especially our babies. That’s why it was so easy for people to connect to videos like, “Baby’s First Bacon.”
The video went viral as folks vicariously experienced the baby’s ecstatic reaction to his first bacon strip. While this is certainly fun to watch, is giving your baby bacon a healthy choice?
Here’s the video for your viewing pleasure:
Is Giving your Baby Bacon Safe?
As terribly adorable as this baby’s performance was, the short answer is a resounding no! For all the bacon-loving parents of the world, that’s probably not the answer you want to hear. But it’s a hard truth we have to face for baby’s sake. So let’s explore healthy options and why bacon does not fit into that category.
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At this time she is ready for Stage 1 baby food. Stage 1 foods are made from single ingredients and are only intended as a complement to breastmilk and formula. You can mash up a banana or buy it in jars. But the food should be drippy like soup and fall off of the spoon easily.
Single-ingredient foods are gentle on the baby’s digestive system. It also helps identify any food allergies by taking out the guesswork. Since bacon is ham cured with salt, that takes it off of the single ingredient list.
And let’s be honest – we might enjoy bacon in almost every form, but a bacon smoothie is probably taking it a step too far.
At Stage 2, you can blend two or more ingredients together. Stage 2 foods can be roughly puréed and a little less soupy in texture than Stage 1 foods. At this point, your baby can start having soft foods like macaroni and cheese. You can also give your baby scrambled eggs.
However, that doesn’t mean you can start giving your baby bacon yet.
Is Sodium Dangerous for Babies?
One of the reasons to avoid giving your baby bacon is because it is high in sodium.
Bacon is a pork belly or back cut of meat cured in salt. Just one strip of bacon has 137mg. To put that in perspective, a whole order of McDonald’s French Fries has about 189mg of sodium.
Most processed foods contain heavy amounts of salt. This makes feeding newborns exclusively breast milk or formula extremely important for their health.
While it may not seem so dangerous giving your baby bacon, this salt heavy food can contribute to kidney problems and blood pressure issues in later life. In reality, salt is not simply unhealthy for babies. A teaspoon of salt can be deadly. A baby getting into the salt shaker is a definite call to poison control and perhaps the hospital. So watching your child’s salt intake is critically important.
How Much Salt Should a Baby Eat?
Babies 6-12-month-olds should only consume a maximum of 370mg of salt a day, yet many are getting an average of 645mg.
As infants reach their first year of life, their appetite increases. Since one piece of bacon is roughly 137mg of salt, giving your baby bacon feeds them nearly half of their daily salt intake. And they’ll still be hungry! It becomes obvious how easy it is to hit the maximum salt limit.
Making sure your baby is satisfied makes the rest of the baby’s care much easier. A well-fed baby is one that sleeps well at night. So giving your baby bacon may cause more than just physical health problems. In this way, unhealthy food choices can disrupt their temperament, their sleep cycles and make life harder for mom and dad.
In reality, this is an issue that affects both children and adults alike. The average American eats far more salt than the daily recommended allowance. You don’t have to stick to jars of baby food, but changing your own diet and refrigerator contents can help them when they’re ready for solid food. After all, our children learn from us.
One day, giving your baby bacon can become a healthy choice. Children 1-3 need to get 30%-40% of their calories from fat. Fat is healthy for children and gives them a lot of energy and essential nutrients. So when they are old enough, this will be a nutritious option from time to time.
Healthy Alternatives To Bacon for Your Baby
At the end of the day (literally) we just want our babies to be happy, healthy and satisfied because this helps keep a routine and a healthy sleep schedule. We want to fill their little bellies up with the good stuff so that they sleep soundly through the night. There are plenty of good alternatives to giving your baby bacon that can even help your baby at night.
- Turkey: Turkey is a great alternative to bacon. It’s healthy for baby, and helps them rest.
- Beef: Steak is too tough for babies but if you purée it well it’s a nice filling treat, and will leave your baby satisfied.
- Bananas: Bananas have melatonin which is a supplement us older folks actually take to help us sleep at night. Bananas are a wonderful after diner dessert for babies and will help mom and dad get their own beauty rest.
Feeding your baby properly can help keep them calm and focused throughout the day. Often when we see babies bouncing off the walls, sugar or high fat is the culprit. While they are still small, you should hold off on giving your baby bacon. A balanced diet helps make baby care more manageable for parents and caretakers. Your child will get more out of the Early Childhood Learning Center or even just from watching Sesame Street if they are happy, calm and satisfied.