Written by Editorial Team
Is it safe to add salt to baby food? It is best to avoid putting salt in your baby’s food. Most pediatricians and health professionals advise against it. Are you wondering why you can’t add a little salt for extra taste in your little one’s food? Below are some points which can help you to understand.
You might feel that home-cooked food holds no flavor for your little one and thus you might feel tempted to add some salt. This is not at all required and can possibly be dangerous for your baby. In order to avoid salt, try some better ways to encourage your baby to eat like you can try experimenting with some other spices such as cumin, ginger, or garlic.
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One of the main reasons not to add any salt into the food of your baby is because they only require a small amount of salt in their diet (less than 1g per day up to the age of 12 months). And if you are breastfeeding your baby, then all the salt requirements are met through breast milk. Formula-fed babies also get the optimal salt intake through the formula they are drinking.
Even after their first birthday, babies just need about 2g of salt (0.8g sodium) per day till they are 3 years of age. Giving more than the recommended quantity of salt to your baby can actually cause damage to your baby’s kidneys.
While starting a semi-solid diet for the baby, often you will find many confused parents who are unsure about adding salt to their baby’s food. Some parents start adding a bit of salt to home-cooked meals in order to make them taste better.
However, the fact is that your baby’s taste buds and palates are still in the developing stage. Your little one hasn’t developed any specific taste for salty dishes and food without salt is perfectly acceptable to them – as they won’t miss what they haven’t yet experienced.
Salt is an essential mineral for our body. But, in the case of infants, too much salt can be harmful to their still-developing kidneys. Adding salt to the baby’s food can cause some serious damage to the baby as the kidneys cannot process and remove high levels of salt from the blood.
The high salt content in a baby’s food can also possibly cause brain damage as well. There are also some studies that suggest that too much consumption of salt from early life can cause high blood pressure in the future, especially if the parents have a family history of hypertension. This happens because the baby tends to develop a palate for salty foods.
Indian spices such as turmeric हल्दी – haldi), cumin (जीरा – jeera) and coriander (धनिया- dhaniya), carom seeds (अजवाईन – ajwain) can add flavor to food even when used in small quantities. However, even to introduce your baby to spices, you need to wait till the baby turns 8 months old. Do bear in mind that all these spices and herbs should be treated as new food for the baby and hence you should follow the 3-day wait rule for babies. After your baby has crossed the age of 6 months, you may add a little ghee to his food after consulting the doctor.
There are many side effects of giving salt to babies, especially those who are not a year old yet. For this reason, doctors strictly recommend refraining giving salt to babies. Here are some side effects that can be expected when you give salt to your baby.
The various systems of a baby’s body are constantly developing and cannot handle heavy loads yet. Babies below one year of age do not need more than 1 gram of sodium in a day. Babies who take more salt than the body can process can often end up with damaged kidneys because the kidneys are not capable enough of handling so much salt.
Babies who are constantly eating more salt from a very young age get used to that taste and start requiring more salt in their food as they grow up. This excess intake of salt over many years can cause the development of heart issues such as high BP and heart attacks in the long run.
Please remember a high salt diet during the early period of a baby’s life can put him at risk of many serious conditions later in life. These include various kidney-related conditions. Here are some precautions to take to avoid excessive salt in my baby’s food.
There are many ready-made foods that contain salt in them, so it’s important to check labels for nutritional information and then buy the baby food. It’s better to choose food with a sodium content of not more than 0.1g of sodium per 100g
The best way to avoid salt in ready-made food is to buy food that is specifically made for infants or babies. There are so many baby cereals that have extremely low salt content, that it’s better to buy baby cereals according to their age group. Do not feed them adult food as it can have more than the requisite amount of salt
Recommended salt intake for toddlers aging from one to three years is less than 2g a day, so avoid feeding them processed foods that are high in salt content such as French fries, pizza, chips, crackers, biscuits, adult cereal breakfast, and Chinese food
Don’t add salt while you are preparing a home-cooked meal for your infant, you can try feeding your baby with water of boiled pulses, paneer (पनीर), fresh fruits, and curd
If you have a toddler and a baby, do understand that for both the recommended amounts of salt intake are different. While your toddler can tolerate higher doses of salt, your baby probably cannot. So it makes sense not to mix the foods of both your toddler and infant
For your infants and toddlers making sure that they don’t eat too much salt is a healthy way of ensuring that they don’t develop a taste for salty food in a very early period of their life. It will also make them less exposed to ill effects related to high consumption of sodium.
So adding more than recommended salt to your baby’s food can be very dangerous for him. Keep down the bottle of salt, and be assured, that your baby loves the new tastes, new textures, and new colors of food that you are preparing for him without adding any salt.
You should not add salt in any form to baby food till they are at least a year old. Post celebrating their first birthday, you can start adding tiny quantities of salt after taking advice from your pediatrician.
Organic natural unrefined salts such as Himalayan pink salt are the best for babies who are older than a year.
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