When the time comes for babies to be introduced to solid foods, parents cannot wait for little ones to try everything. While the early days are generally filled with bland-tasting foods, adding seasonings and spices as the tastebuds begin to mature can broaden babies’ pallets so that they enjoy flavors from around the world. One of these first seasonings that many parents try is adding a bit of salt to their babies’ food.
And while it may seem like a good idea to boost the flavor of food this way, adding salt too early on can have an effect on babies’ overall willingness to try new foods. Because of this, it is best to wait as long as possible before adding salt to babies’ food.
The goal of giving babies a rainbow of colors on their plate is to encourage them to eat a variety of flavors and textures. When the norm is to try new foods, there may be less pushback as babies age to be open to foods. Options other than mac and cheese, chicken tenders, and the like may be more accepted than if babies are only given sweet and salty foods from the get-go. And the more adventurous the eater as a baby, the more adventurous eater into the later years of life.
Here is when salt can be added to a baby’s diet.
Age When Baby Can Have Salt Added To Food
The first foods that babies get are made into a purée. Because of this, there may be the temptation for parents to add seasoning to give the purée a bit more pizzazz. But babies need to wait some time before moving from a bland diet to one filled with seasoning.
According to Healthline, salt should not be added to babies’ diets until their first birthdays. This allows the tastebuds time to enjoy different foods and grow into what they are willing to accept from food flavor profiles.
Further still, per the publication, babies’ kidneys are not mature enough to be able to filter an excess of salt as adults’ kidneys can. As a result, babies can become sick or even have their kidneys permanently damaged if offered too much salt too soon.
Therefore, parents should give it some time before adding salt to their babies’ diets. Babies’ systems will thank them for it.
Some Salt Is Necessary In Baby’s Diet
Some salt is necessary in babies’ diets in order to keep them healthy. That amount may surprise parents, however.
According to The Children’s Nutritionist, from birth to six months of age, babies should only have one gram of salt added to their diets. This is done, per publication via breast milk or formula.
After that age, babies and toddlers should have no more than two grams per day of saltaccording to The Children’s Nutritionist. Something that many parents mistakenly go over day in and day out when offering their babies solid foods.
Why Waiting To Add Salt Is Beneficial
When parents wait to add salt to their babies ‘diets, they are doing their babies’ future health a great advantage. This is because once babies start to get salt consistently with their food, they begin to crave it. And it can be that the craving becomes so great that picky eaters are made as a result.
According to Health.com, babies are born with an affinity for salty foods. But when they are not afforded the opportunity to eat salty foods day in and day out, it is not something that becomes a craving. It is when salt and processed food are given at an early age, per the publication that there is a desire to have salty foods consistently.
This was proven as a result of a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. What the study showed is that when babies are given salt-laden foods before their first birthdays, as kids and adults they are more prone to be drawn to eating copious amounts of food filled with salt and sodium than those who had salt delayed until after their first birthdays.
As such, the longer that parents are willing to wait to provide extra salt to their babies’ diets, the less picky an eater they will become. Something that not only applies to babies but to adults as well.
High Sodium Foods That Should Be Excluded From Baby’s Diet
The hard thing about keeping sodium intake low in babies’ diets is that foods that are geared toward babies can have a great deal of sodium in them. Does this mean that all foods with sodium should be avoided? Not necessarily. But there are some that parents should not give to infants to keep their sodium intake low.
According to BabyCentre, foods that parents should avoid giving their babies due to high sodium content include:
- Prepared baby meals
Many sauces and gravies are high in salt as well, per publication, and should not be given to babies either.
The longer that parents can put off high sodium foods, the healthier babies and potentially older children and adults will be as a result.
Alternative To Salt To Flavor Food For Baby
As babies grow accustomed to their puréed foods, parents can begin to slowly add in spices that may change the flavor profile but do not add sodium by doing so.
According to Parent Map spices that parents may want to consider adding to their babies’ foods include:
All of these spices will dance on babies’ tastebuds while not making them crave saltiness. And when this happens, more adventurous eaters are made.
Source: Healthline, The Children’s Nutritionist, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Health.com, BabyCentre, Parent Map