When your child begins eating finger foods, inexpensive and easy-to-prepare meals become appealing options.
One of the most well-loved of these is the fast and tasty pizza, but is this food baby friendly? If so, what age should they be before they have their first bite?
When can babies eat pizza? Pediatricians normally advise waiting until babies are between 12 and 15 months old before introducing pizza. While they can start to eat finger foods before this, the complex texture of pizza requires a little more experience with chewing and swallowing.
When the time comes to introduce pizza to your little one, you’ll need to take the ingredients into consideration in case of potential food allergies and the health implications of frozen vs. homemade pizza.
Read on to find out how healthy pizza is for your baby, how to serve it up safely, and our recipe ideas and tips for making a nutritious homemade pizza.
Pizza for Babies – What To Know
Babies can eat pizza as it has some nutritional benefits, but they shouldn’t be introduced too early to the stuff.
Let’s look at when to introduce this food, how healthy the cheese and crust are for them, and serving suggestions.
Is Pizza Healthy?
Depending on how it’s prepared, pizza can be nutritious. All pizza is typically made using refined wheat flour, which is low in fiber – a known link to weight gain.
The cheese, salty toppings, and sauces are, of course, high in sodium and sugar, but the unhealthiest pizzas are always the frozen and fast-food types as these add colorings, saturated fats, and preservatives into the mix.
Why Pizza Is Not Recommended for Babies Under 1 Year
Though babies can begin eating simple finger foods around 6-9 months old, pizza is in a slightly different category due to its complexity.
The combination of soft and hard bread and the bulk of numerous toppings can pose a choking hazard.
Even with plain tomato and cheese pizzas, your 1-year-old may still have problems chewing, so the pizza would need to be cut up to pea-size or smaller, which seems messy and quite pointless.
Can Babies Eat Pizza Crust?
As long as they are ready for finger food and the crust is soft and small enough for them to chew and bite on their own, then this shouldn’t be a problem.
As the crust contains wheat flour, it’s a good idea to consult your pediatrician about a potential wheat allergy if your baby has shown any mild food allergy symptoms.
Is Cheese Good for Babies?
Yes, but according to Healthline, you should offer your baby “mild, full-fat cheeses that are pasteurized for safety (killing off bacteria) and whole cheese rather than ‘cheese products’ as the latter contains added unhealthy ingredients.”
- Mild cheddar
- Monterey Jack
- Cottage and cream cheese
Which Cheeses To Avoid
- Goat cheese
- Blue-veined cheeses (e.g., Roquefort)
- Mold-ripened cheeses (Camembert, Brie, etc.)
How To Serve Pizza to 12-Month-Old
For starters, try to make it a homemade pizza so that you’re in control of the ingredients.
Pediatrician at Northwestern Medicine CDH Dr. Uma. S. Levy, MD, suggests using “a whole wheat or whole grain crust, whole milk cheese, fresh well-cooked vegetables and simple seasoning. If you do serve them a store-bought/restaurant pizza, add some fruit and veggies for a balanced meal.”
The safest serving suggestion for babies 1 year and older is to take half a slice and cut this up into small bite-size pieces.
Pizza for Toddlers
At this age, you can involve your little one in the pizza-making!
Make it fun by letting them decorate a plain cheese and tomato pizza with veggie pieces for a face (things like pepper strips for eyebrows and lips, halved cherry tomatoes for eyes or cheeks, etc.).
Check out this easy, nutritious recipe for inspiration.
Baby-Led Weaning Pizza
Baby-led weaning refers to feeding your baby finger foods as soon as they can eat solids and allowing them to feed themselves rather than spoon-feeding them mashed/pureed foods.
With all its textures and flavors, pizza is a great baby-led weaning food.
Nicola from Mummy to Dex recommends creating homemade dough using flour and natural yogurt to make the base super soft or using store-bought flatbread for simple topping-building!
Healthy Homemade Pizza
Store-bought pizza might be convenient for families, but once you know how easy it is to make pizza at home, you won’t want to go back to the ultra-processed, salt-charged offerings.
By swapping out the high-calorie cheeses, sauces, and white flour for healthier alternatives, you can make a nutritious pizza for your little ones that’s still delicious.
Here are a few pointers to make it the best it can be for little tummies and taste buds…
Wholewheat or wholegrain spelt flour – these types are much easier to digest than normal wheat flour and are packed with fiber and strength-building nutrients like iron and magnesium compared to regular white flour.
Tomato Sauce Base
Organic store-bought tomato sauce jars with reduced salt and sugar content are a great option. If it’s possible though, home-grown tomato sauce will make the perfect healthy homemade pizza base!
Tomatoes are naturally high in vitamins C and K, and the antioxidant lycopene contributes to a healthy heart.
Mozzarella is probably the best cheese type you can use for a homemade pizza due to its low sodium content. It’s also super easy to shred and bubbles up beautifully when cooked.
Healthy Green Topping
A sprinkling of fresh spinach or dried basil leaves makes a great vitamin-rich topping (a great way to sneak spinach past fussy toddlers among all the tasty cheese and tomatoes!).
Always opt for fresh (not frozen) spinach as the excess water released from the latter will make a soggy base.
Healthy Pizza Toppings
There are many more healthy and delicious pizza toppings besides basil and spinach. Why not try some of the following (ensuring they’re well-cooked/prepared to enable easy chewing for your one-year-old)?
- Sweet potato
When Can Babies Eat Spicy Food?
“Unless your baby has a reaction, there’s no reason why you can’t introduce a hint of spicy food as early as six months,” according to dietician and diabetes educator Shahzadi Devje.
Once babies acclimate to solids, spicy foods are fine as long as they get enough nutrition in their diet.
When Can Babies Eat Spaghetti?
Pasta, like spaghetti noodles, can be introduced to babies between 8 and 9 months of age, around the same time your baby can begin eating mostly finger foods.
Parents.com recommends feeding them “small noodles like spirals or macaroni, and ensure they’re well-cooked.”
In summary, babies can be introduced to pizza between the ages of 12 and 15 months but no earlier than one year old.
This is due to the fact that your 12-month-old may still have trouble chewing and swallowing, so the complex textures and hard crust of a traditional frozen/store-bought pizza can pose a greater choking hazard.
Once they’re ready to experience the unique and yummy flavors a pizza has to offer, be sure to make it as safe and healthy as you can for them by making one at home.
That way you can take charge of the ingredients and create one that’s more digestible and higher in key vitamins and minerals!
Mom of three (including identical twin boys), wife, and owner of Parents Wonder. This is my place to share my journey as a mother and the helpful insights I learn along the way.