Health professionals advise against adding salt to baby food – but have you ever wondered why? And could you already be including too much salt in your baby’s diet without realizing?
The human body needs some salt in order to function correctly. Salt cannot be reproduced by the body, so a little salt is a necessary part of our daily diet.
But a baby’s salt requirements are VERY small (less than 1g per day up to the age of 12 months) – and these needs are met by his breastmilk or formula.
His kidneys are simply not equipped to process more salt than this – meaning that adding salt to baby food can lead to serious kidney damage.
There have even been extreme situations in which babies have died as a result of consuming too much salt.
This tragic story from the BBC is one such example, where a very young baby (only 3 months of age) died after being fed a diet of pureed adult food – which, of course, far exceeded the levels of salt appropriate for an infant.
There is also growing evidence that consuming too much salt from an early age can lead to high blood pressure in later life – particularly in families with a history of hypertension.
Well, you may find food bland if it’s cooked without salt, because your palate is probably accustomed to saltier flavours.
But remember that your baby’s palate is undeveloped and that he hasn’t yet acquired a preference for salty tastes!
In fact, foods that you consider bland may be perfectly acceptable to your little one – after all, he won’t miss what he hasn’t yet experienced.
On the other hand, ensuring that your baby’s food is ‘salt-free’ doesn’t mean that it has to be ‘flavour-free’ too! In fact, one of the aims of our site is to help you create meals for your baby that are both safe AND delicious!
Instead of adding salt to baby food, try adding herbs, aromatic spices or garlic instead. These ‘natural flavourings’ actually offer many health benefits in their own right.
Some parents choose to use No-Salt Herbal Seasonings in their babies’ meals – a little black pepper adds a flavourful boost to dishes, too – and is also a wonderful aid to digestion.
Do bear in mind that herbs, spices and garlic should be treated as new foods when you first introduce them to your baby – this means that they should be given separately, at least four days apart, to help you identify and avoid potential food allergies or digestive problems.
And remember – the introduction of ANY new foods should first be discussed with your child’s doctor.
Sodium – How to Tame Your Salt Habit Now (Mayo Clinic)
Iron supplements for infants – are they necessary?