Can Babies Eat Bologna? Is it Safe? 

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Luncheon meats or deli meats, such as bologna, are often a concern for pregnant women, so it makes sense to wonder if they are safe for your baby. So let’s talk about it!

Overall, bologna is safe for your baby if the meat has been heated to steaming (such as in the microwave). However, bologna is high in sodium and saturated fat, so it should only be given to babies in moderation.

In this article, we will go into more depth about how to safely serve your baby bologna, the nutritional information, alternatives, and more. Read on! 

When Can Babies Eat Bologna? 

Babies can safely consume bologna beginning at six months old. It can be pureed for babies who are six to nine months of age and cut into small pieces for babies to eat as finger foods when they reach ten months of age (source: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). 

In addition to the thin-sliced deli cuts of meat version, bologna is also available as a sausage, which is often very thick and may be difficult for your baby to chew. Avoid feeding babies sausage-shaped bologna because of the increased risk of choking.

Due to the increased risk of the presence of bacteria that could cause foodborne illness, deli and luncheon meats should not be served to babies cold (source: United States Food and Drug Administration [FDA]).

bologna meat slices on a cutting board

Cold deli meats, like bologna, are more likely to have listeria bacteria because this bacteria is more likely to grow at refrigerator temperatures. Instead, heat the deli meat, including bologna, until it is steaming.

Heating the meat to steaming can be done by microwaving it until it is steaming hot or 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, when you store bologna in the fridge, discard it after three to five days after you open the packaging (source: FDA). 

Additionally, while most bologna products are sweetened with corn syrup or brown sugar, make sure to avoid any that are “Honey Smoked” or contain honey in the ingredients list.

Honey in any amount or form is unsafe for babies who are under 12 months old because it contains bacteria that can cause infant botulism (source: Cleveland Clinic). 

Is Bologna Good or Bad for Babies?

Unfortunately, bologna deli meat is often very high in sodium, total fat, and saturated fat. For example, a single slice of beef bologna contains a whopping 300 milligrams of sodium and three grams of saturated fat (source: United States Department of Agriculture [USDA]).

It is recommended that infants aged seven to 12 months should consume 370 milligrams of sodium each day (source: National Academy of Sciences).

A collection of cold meats, bologna, and vienna sausages garnished with parsley and tomato

In other words, a single slice of bologna is almost your baby’s entire daily sodium recommendation. Too much sodium can be unhealthy for your baby and is not good for their kidneys (source: National Health Service [NHS]).

Therefore, it is best to include bologna in baby foods only in moderation. Instead, you can provide low-sodium deli meats that are heated to steaming or protein sources such as fully-cooked seafood, fish, poultry, and more. 

In conclusion, I hope this article helped break down the safety and nutrition of bologna for your baby.