Salt in children’s diet: A boon or a curse?

Let’s begin with a fun fact, shall we?  The word salt comes from the Latin word “sal,” meaning salt. It was once a valuable commodity, and it has been used as a currency for trading. The English word “salary” comes from the word salt.

We feel like a lot of us, parents, are pretty conscious of how much sugar they are giving to their baby, but what about their sodium intake? Here we are, shedding some light on a few lesser known facts about sodium.

  • Research shows that 79% of pre-schoolers, aged 1-3 years consume more than the recommended amount of sodium each day. That’s a HUGE PERCENTAGE. Sodium intake is related to high blood pressure (aka the “silent killer”), which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. While you may think hypertension occurs only in adults, babies are not immune from it. And what’s concerning is, that this has been shown to track into adulthood.
  • High sodium intake also can impact bone health. Studies show a positive correlation between salt intake and calcium excretion, resulting in a reduced peak bone mass. This is concerning as bone mass attained in childhood has a great impact on lifelong skeletal health.
  • Also, studies show that babies are born with innate preferences for sweet and salty flavours. Sweet and salty foods are highly palatable and elicit a highly rewarding experience. It is no wonder that your child is more likely to choose sodium-rich foods like pizza and chips over vegetables and other whole foods.

DIETARY GUIDLINES FOR SODIUM

ACCORDING TO THE DIETARY GUIDELINES 2015-2020

  • 1-3 years: 1500 mg/day
  • 4-8 years: 1900 mg/day

Researchers have found that children who consume salty foods are more likely to have a sugary drink with it. This combination could increase the risk of obesity.

It’s a good idea to avoid adding any extra salt to your baby’s food. Babies only need a tiny amount of salt in their diets, and that need is generally met through breast milk or infant formula. As your child gets older (post 12 months) and begins eating table food, they will get plenty of “hidden” salt in the foods with their balanced diet. 

MKB Team
MomsKnowBest is a fast-growing vibrant community of moms, for moms, by moms. Motherhood is complex fun, fulfilling, grueling, exhausting and very complex. There’s no handbook to it. And let’s face it – moms are put under just too much pressure. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through it alone. We’re here to help you and be your friend and guide through it all. At MomsKnowBest you’ll find a wide variety of resources spanning from parenting hacks, nutrition for kids, fitness tips, shopping lists, must-haves, tips and tricks for busy moms, support articles and much more. Everything here is curated and approved by moms, so you know you’re getting all the helpful stuff. We’re here to empower each other, grow together and have some fun along the way. Are you in?

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