Pizza is a dish popular all around the world. It can be served with a wide variety of toppings from pepperoni to pineapple to veggies and more! However, is pizza safe to feed to your baby?
Babies over age one can consume pizza safely when cut into tiny pieces. However, it is high in sodium and saturated fat and should be served in moderation. Ensure all meats are thoroughly cooked, and the pizza is cut into small bite-sized pieces.
From homemade pizza to store-bought frozen pizza and more, there is so much to unpack regarding pizza safety for babies. Let’s dive into the facts!
Is Pizza Safe for Babies?
The word “pizza”has many definitions for different people. Typically it is comprised of a crust with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese baked in the oven. Similarly, pizza may have various toppings, including meats, cheese, fruits, vegetables, and more.
Overall, pizza is safe for babies as long as the pizza and the meats are fully cooked. If the pizza contains lunch or deli meats, ensure that it is heated until steaming, then cooled to the appropriate temperature for the baby (source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA]).
However, it is essential to note that pizza is exceptionally high in sodium, especially if it contains processed meats such as pepperoni, sausage, and more. Therefore, avoid feeding small children and babies foods high in sodium like pizza on a regular basis (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]).
The cheese on pizza, typically mozzarella, is also high in sodium. Cheese also contains significant amounts of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. Babies should eat a limited amount of both (source: American Heart Association).
Due to the high salt and saturated fat content, pizza should be fed to babies in moderation.
For leftover pizza after a meal, ensure it is placed in the fridge no more than two hours after cooking. If the temperature outside is greater than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, put the pizza in the fridge within one hour after cooking.
Additionally, when reheating leftover pizza for your baby, ensure that you heat it to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any potentially harmful bacteria. More on serving cold pizza below!
When Can Babies Have Pizza?
Babies can begin to eat solid foods around four months old. However, experts recommend waiting until the baby is about age six months to start weaning from breastfeeding or formula feeding (source: Nemours Children’s Health).
Once the baby reaches this age, you can feed them solid foods starting with fortified baby cereal. Once that goes well, the baby will begin eating other foods, one at a time, including pureed fruit, meat, vegetables, and yogurt.
It is not recommended to start feeding finger foods until your baby is at least nine months old, starting with very soft and mushy foods such as pasta, small pieces of banana, and more (source: Johns Hopkins Medicine). Pizza is best saved until the baby is at least one year old.
Additionally, it is essential to cut up the pizza into small, bite-sized pieces to reduce the risk of choking, especially if there are many toppings such as meat.
For baby-led weaning, the pizza should again be cut very small so that the baby can grasp the pieces and not choke. The pizza should be very soft. Avoid overcooking the pizza as it will become more crispy and tough to eat.
Is Homemade Pizza Safer for Babies?
Many parents wonder if making a pizza themselves at home is a safer alternative than premade pizzas. While homemade pizza is not necessarily safer, it can be healthier for your child.
While it depends greatly on the ingredients and toppings used, a homemade pizza can be healthier in general because you can control how much sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol are added.
However, when you order a pizza from a restaurant or prepare a frozen pizza from the grocery store, you have much less control over the ingredients, fat, and salt content the pizza contains, aside from choosing the brand or variety you want.
When cooking pizza at home, for example, you could use reduced-fat cheese or less cheese. You can also opt for healthier toppings such as fruits or vegetables, and decrease the amount of added salt. These food swaps would help make the pizza healthier for your baby.
Can Babies Have Cold or Frozen Pizza?
In general, babies should not consume cold leftover pizza due to the risk of potentially harmful bacteria (source: FDA).
To serve leftover pizza safely, heat it to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, then let it cool to an appropriate temperature before serving it to your baby. Use a food thermometer to ensure that the pizza gets to a safe temperature.
Additionally, frozen pizza that is baked at home is a suitable option for your baby. However, it is best to opt for a lower-sodium pizza that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Can Babies Have Pizza Rolls?
Pizza rolls, specifically from the famous brand Totino’s, are a beloved snack. They are basically small pizza dough pockets filled with pizza tomato sauce and various kinds of cheese, and may even contain some toppings, such as cubes of pepperoni.
However, similar to store-bought frozen pizza, pizza rolls are generally high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. It’s best to feed pizza rolls to your baby in moderation or avoid them completely.
Additionally, keep in mind that on the inside, pizza rolls are often much hotter than they feel on the outside, so we recommend cutting them in half right away to make sure they cool before serving them to your baby.
I hope you found this article helpful in breaking down the information regarding the safety and health implications of feeding your baby pizza, including frozen pizza, homemade pizza, pizza rolls, and more.