Salt in weaning?
Most parents realise that weaning babies shouldn’t be given too much salt, especially in the first year. But, what is too much? We do know that across the whole population, salt intakes are higher than recommended including during weaning. Some studies have shown that salt intakes are even higher in babies following a Baby-Led Weaning approach as parents may offer unsuitable family foods.
What’s the problem with salt?
Salt contains sodium, and when babies have too much, their kidneys can’t copy. Another problem with giving babies and young children salty food is that they get used to it. Then, when they are older, they may prefer saltier foods, and this may mean more processed foods. Evidence also suggests that early salt intake may have a persistent long-term effect on your baby’s blood pressure, even if they reduce their salt intake in later life.
Where do babies get salt from?
Babies get some salt from their milk, the rest from the foods that they eat.
Recommended salt intakes for babies and kids
A simple guide to salt and your baby
What about shop-bought foods like baked beans?
If you are offering mostly home-cooked foods without added salt and avoiding the obvious sources of high salt foods; then you can afford to provide your baby with some shop-bought products with small amounts of added salt. Use the simple guide above to help you decide whether a product is suitable or not. When you are choosing a product, try to find the brand with the least added salt, this will benefit the whole family as well as your baby.
You can see in the pictures below that these tea-time meals are still well within the recommended levels for babies under one even though each meal contains two foods with added salt. However, as you’ll notice, these are paired with fresh veggies steamed without added salt. If you served these as tea options following a breakfast of Ready Brek (no added salt) with fruit and dinner of fresh fish or meat with veggies and potatoes, then there would be no problem. If both of these meals were served on the same day for dinner and tea following a breakfast of toast with peanut butter, then salt intakes would be too high.
The bottom line!
Offer a variety of mostly fresh home-cooked foods with no added salt. The occasional shop-bought product is fine as long as it is not a ‘high salt’ food. If you want to make home-made baked beans, hummus and bread and you have the time, skills and equipment to do so then that’s a great option too.
Learn more about simple, efficient and healthy ways to feed your baby at our Baby Weaning Class