Why shouldn’t you add salt to the baby’s meals?
Many of you have been asking about adding salt to your baby’s meals. So can you put salt in your child’s meals, yes or no? Starting from what age and how much?
Salt: use with moderation!
Salt is an important and essential element in our diet because it is made of sodium chloride. However, in Western society, salt consumption is considered to be too high (WHO) and may have adverse health effects (high blood pressure, obesity).
The recommended amount is 2 to 5 grams of salt per day for adults, for babies it is best not to add any. Why? On the one hand, the food given to your child already has a small amount of salt that is naturally contained in it, either in milk or the first purées you prepare for your baby. On the other hand, you should not add salt to your child’s food because its kidneys are not ready yet and therefore it will find it more difficult to eliminate it.
Do not create bad eating habits
Let’s put an end to the popular misconception according to which, without salt, there is no flavour: this is not true! First of all, salt is not a flavour enhancer, as it changes how we perceive flavours. And the taste of salt is not an innate taste, but has been developed by the food industry, which creates a form of addiction to salty flavours. Moreover, it is best to exclude industrial food, which very often contains salt to preserve it better and artificially improve its flavour.
So if you are preparing jars of home-made food yourself, do not add salt: even when you think the meal does not contain enough salt, it will still be tasty for your child. If you add salt, you might create bad eating habits. Bear in mind that weaning is not just about gradually passing from a liquid diet to solid food, but it is also about developing your child’s taste!
How much salt for the baby? At what age can I start adding cooking salt?
Until the child is about 1 year old, it needs less than 1 g of salt a day. As stated above, salt is already naturally found in milk and the food you prepare (obviously if you do not consider ready-made meals and processed food).
After the child is 1 year old and up to when it is 3 years old, the recommended amount of salt is 2 grams.
* Salt is already naturally found in some foods, like cheese or canned vegetables: use them sparingly! If you cannot avoid using ready-made meals, read the ingredients on the product’s label to identify the amount of salt hidden in it. Beware, the label does not always say it contains « salt », but « sodium ». Do not overdo the portions.
* If the baby finds that a dish really seems too bland, consider using herbs and spices: sage, thyme, rosemary and paprika will enhance the taste of your food!
* Finally, do not hesitate to ask your paediatrician who will advise you on your child’s diet!