We've been feeding our 15-month-old deli ham for dinner pretty regularly. Recently, a family member was alarmed that we were feeding him any kind of deli meat because it is "bad for them". We typically get Prima Della Black Forrest Ham or Oven Roasted Chicken.

As usual, the collective wisdom of Google muddies the water, so I'm wondering if deli meats are a big no-no?

If so, can somebody point us to a realistic meal plan?

  • Hormel sells nitrate free deli meats. They're usually in cardboard boxes and easily identified. Beofett pointed out the pregnancy warning, which may be what you are talking about or wondering if this translates to young children. Aside that, you can find nitrate free meats in general - Target sells a select turkey bacon with no nitrates. I fed my 1 1/2 year old small pieces of the nitrate free deli meats if she would take them and no known issues came from that. PS - I'm adding to what Jessica Brown pointed out in the answers
    – Kai Qing
    Jan 29, 2015 at 23:31

3 Answers 3


Your family member may be confusing the advice to avoid all deli meat for pregnant mothers.

Deli meats and other precooked meats put pregnant women at a high risk for listeriosis and are advised to avoid them unless cooked to steaming hot.

Once a child is transitioned to solid foods, the only main concerns are common allergens (seafood, tree nuts, etc.), and, of course, healthy food habits. There's nothing wrong with deli meats beyond the normal high-sodium/high-fat factors that impact any adult's consumption.

  • 2
    I wanted to add that the avoidance advice also exists for the elderly. Listeriosis is a type of food poisoning caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria which can be found in dairy products, vegetables, fish and meat products. The elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are especially susceptible. Listeriosis is a rare but serious illness and can sometimes result in death. Nov 30, 2011 at 19:23

Deli meats can be high in nitrates. Too much nitrates is bad for babies. But this is a balance and moderation issue, its not like handing a baby a candy bar for lunch.


Many of my friends have fed their kids deli meats for a while, and our local deli is known to not use any preservatives or special means of preparation any more than slicing it in front of you, weighing it, and handing you a bag full of meat.

Asking my friends, whom collectively had two girls and a boy; they say it's been fine for them. No allergic or allergic seeming reactions, odd diseases, nothing that Google says should even be taken as "research citation" frankly; so there's little for me to quote but experience.

You can always check out meal plans though if you are interested:


Frankly you should always use your own information, experience, friends, and judgement when making decisions about what your child eats. None of my friends have dealt with meal planning before, just feeding the child what they think is applicable; between rice cereal, oats, some solid foods at one year, and going from there.

  • The gerber link is 404...can you fix that link?
    – Tim Reddy
    Nov 15, 2011 at 2:00
  • As long as the meats you give have little preservatives and salt then it shouldn't be doing "bad". Like most things as long as you have a balanced diet and are careful in what the meal contains then you should be ok.
    – MichaelF
    Nov 15, 2011 at 13:09

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