What Age Can Babies Eat Ham? A Helpful Guide for Introducing This Meat

Ham is a delicious and versatile cured pork product that can add flavor and valuable nutrition to a baby’s diet. But what age should you introduce ham? Can babies eat deli meat? What about honey baked ham? Here is a comprehensive guide on the best age and ways to safely introduce ham to babies and young children.

When Can Babies Start Eating Ham?

The general guidance is around 6 months of age, when babies are developmentally ready for solid foods. At this stage, babies have improved coordination and can sit upright, hold their head steady, close their lips around a spoon, and swallow soft foods. Developmental readiness is more important than a specific age when introducing ham or any new food.

Look for signs your baby can manage soft, mashed, or minced ham:

  • Good head and neck control
  • Ability to sit supported in a high chair
  • Interest in foods you are eating
  • Loss of tongue-thrust reflex
  • Closes lips on spoon instead of pushing food out

Start with Small Amounts of Plain Ham

Initially offer just a small taste of 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon of plain ham minced or mashed into a soft puree or mash. Slowly increase to larger pieces and chunks over the following weeks as your baby gains more experience eating solid foods.

Avoid added salt or seasoning and be cautious of deli meats and cured ham until 10-12 months of age. Opt for well-cooked fresh ham or lower sodium products.

Types of Ham to Avoid for Babies Under 1 Year

It’s best to avoid these types of ham until after a baby’s first birthday

  • Honey baked ham or honey glazed ham due to risk of infant botulism

  • Deli lunch meats like sliced ham and turkey due to Listeria risk – heat to steaming before serving

  • Heavily cured, salty hams like prosciutto, Serrano, or country ham

  • Smoked or spiced hams that may irritate baby’s sensitive taste buds

  • Nitrate-treated hams like some bacon, hot dogs, and deli meats

Appropriate Serving Sizes of Ham for Babies

  • 6-8 months – 1-2 small pieces or 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon mashed/minced ham

  • 8-10 months – 1-2 strips about 1 inch long or 2-3 pieces around 1⁄2 inch cubed

  • 10-12 months – 2-4 pieces or strips totaling about 1 ounce of ham

  • 12+ months – Continue age-appropriate sizes, gradually increasing quantity

Always stay nearby to supervise when baby is eating ham or any meat product.

Tips for Preparing Ham for Babies

  • Choose fresh, unprocessed ham and cook thoroughly to kill bacteria.

  • Trim excess fat and remove any bones before cooking.

  • Chop, shred, or mince ham into small pieces. Avoid chunks or cubes.

  • Moisten with breastmilk, formula, or water if needed.

  • Mix into purees or mashed veggies, grains, or fruits.

  • Refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze in servings for later use.

Health Benefits of Ham for Babies

In moderation, ham can offer nutrition benefits:

  • Protein for growth and development
  • Iron to prevent deficiency and anemia
  • Zinc for immune function and metabolism
  • B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12)
  • Selenium, an antioxidant mineral

Lean ham in balance with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can be part of a well-rounded diet. Monitor sodium content if your child has hypertension or kidney issues.

Answers to Common Questions on Babies Eating Ham

Can babies eat honey baked ham? No, avoid honey-glazed, honey-baked, or honey-cured ham before 1 year due to risk of infant botulism.

What about deli lunch meat? Heat to steaming to reduce Listeria risk. Avoid before 10-12 months.

When can babies have prosciutto? It’s very salty, so wait until closer to 12 months old.

What if my baby has an allergy? Talk to your doctor and avoid ham if baby has a pork or red meat allergy.

Can I freeze ham for babies? Yes, freeze minced ham in ice cube trays or small servings.

The Takeaway on Ham for Babies

Ham can be a nutritious first food when introduced around 6 months of age, starting with small portions of plain, well-cooked fresh ham. Avoid added salt, seasonings, and types like deli meat, honey-baked, or cured ham before 12 months. With safe preparation and age-appropriate sizes, ham can be a tasty source of iron and protein for your little one!

What age can I give my baby “baby food” ? – Dr. Dhanashree Kulkarni of Cloudnine Hospitals


Can I give my 8 month old turkey ham?

Yes. Once babies are six months old and eating solids, they can eat turkey. However, it is important to make sure portions are appropriate for their eating stage and not a choking risk.

Can a 1 year old have blue cheese?

12 months old+: Serve thin slices or bite-sized crumbles of pasteurized blue cheese in moderation, either on their own or as part of a meal. To further reduce the risk of foodborne illness, heat pasteurized blue cheese to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).

Can a 1 year old have lunch meat?

Lunch meats are safe for consumption for toddlers who are 12 months and above. However, you need to be extra careful when choosing the right type of lunch meat for your child. While lunch meats are a rich source of protein, they also contain high levels of potassium and sodium in the form of nitrates or nitrites.

When should a baby eat ham?

When safely prepared, ham (honey-free) may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Consider waiting to serve deli meat, glazed ham, and cured ham like prosciutto until the child is older due to an increased risk of foodborne illness.

How long can ham be without refrigeration and still be safe?

Most food experts recommend that ham, should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. After that time, you should discard it.

Can babies eat ham (honey-free)?

Babies can have ham (honey-free) as soon as they’re ready to start solids as long as it’s safely prepared. Like other cuts of pork, ham offers plenty of the nutrients babies need, including protein, zinc, choline, and vitamins B6 and B12. While ham can be high in sodium, it is not a cause for concern as part of a balanced diet.

When can babies eat meat?

When can babies have meat? You can add meat to your baby’s menu any time after starting solids, which is usually around 6 months. In fact, experts recommend that foods like meat and poultry, along with fortified baby cereal and beans, get introduced early on, since they provide key nutrients like iron and zinc.

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