Too much salt is a global issue
We’ve talked a lot about essential nutrients like Omega-3’s and their benefits, but what about salt? Salt is an essential nutrient, but it also is the root of a global issue. According to the CDC, 90% of children eat too much salt; 1 in 6 children also have high blood pressure (which can be lowered by eating less salt).
Babies only need small amounts of naturally present salt, as their kidneys are too underdeveloped to handle added salt. Don’t add salt to any foods cooked for your baby and to any weaning products. Generally, try to limit the amount of salt your baby consumes and avoid processed foods; cooking sauces, premade foods, etc.
Building healthy habits early on is important because low salt diets through childhood will reduce the likelihood of children eating a diet high in salt in the future. Optimally, try to stick to freshly made home-cooking while limiting the amount of salt in their food. When buying premade foods, actively look for sodium in the nutrition level.
Maximum Intake Guidelines (by the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine)
- 0 – 6 months: >1g or 1000mg
- 6 – 12 months >1g or 1000mg
- 1 – 3 years: >2g or 2000mg
- 4 – 6 years >3g or 3000mg
Tips to reduce your child’s salt intake
1. Reduced exposure = reduced cravings
Studies have shown that the amount of salt children and babies are exposed to during their childhood are correlated with salt cravings. Simply put, childhood sodium consumption predicts future sodium cravings.
2. Beware of these foods
The CDC found that these foods below constitutes almost 50% of salt consumption in children:
- Cold cuts
- Mixed Mexican Dishes
3. Home cooking
Homemade foods are the best way to control and limit salt intake. Home cooking alone has on average less salt compared to processed foods. You can further reduce salt content by using a variety of spices (garlic, pepper, bayleaf, cumin, lemon juice, etc) in your cooking.