Contrary to what you may believe, babies don’t need much flavour in their food. They just need, well, FOOD! The main focus for baby food should be the nutrient content and not the flavour. For the first year of their life, their main source of nutrition would be breast milk. Once they turn 6 months, you may start to offer solid food but you don’t have to add salt or sugar to it.
Often you would find that babies don’t even want to have salt in their diet. They eat their regular baby food - no salt or sugar please - with no complaints. You may also know a baby or two who like their food to have some flavour in it. If your baby refuses to eat the bland food, try offering again and again until they do try it. If they don’t take it, you can try and offer them the same with a pinch of salt or sugar.
Take into account the fact that they don’t consume much water. Hence, having more salt than they can end up leaving them dehydrated. Here is a guide to how you should introduce salt into your baby’s diet:
1. Up to one year of age
When you first introduce a baby to solid foods, you would be offering fruits, veggies and cereal. These foods actually have a bit of flavour on its own. Salt and sugar aren’t required at this stage. If you really feel the need to add salt (if your baby refuses to eat it after 7 tries), add just half a pinch of salt while preparing the food. In a day, they should have less than 1gm of salt (less than 0.4gm of sodium)
IMPORTANT NOTE: The salt should be added while preparing the baby food ONLY. It should NOT be added as a last minute garnish. If the salt is spread throughout the dish while cooking, it will make it less harmful. However, adding it directly can be dangerous for your tiny tot.
2. Between 1-3 years of age
Once they turn 12 months old, you can start adding a bit more salt. This is because, after 12 months, the weaning period begins which means you would be increasing their diet portions. Hence, you can gradually increase their salt intake to 2gm per day (0.8gm of sodium).
3. Between 4-6 years of age
When your baby crosses the 4 year age mark, you can again increase their salt intake. This is because their food intake increases at this age. Also, this is the age when your baby would demand flavoursome foods. So adding a little more salt wouldn’t hurt. The recommended intake of salt at this age is 3gm per day.
4. Between 7-10 years of age
Once your baby turns 7, they would be eating normal sized meals. Thus, you can gradually increase their daily salt intake as well. The limit for salt intake would be around 5 gm of salt per day. For adults, the limit is set at 6 gm per day.
In conclusion, the best thing to do is to avoid salt completely for the first year of life. After this, you can start adding half a pinch of salt at 12 months and then gradually increase it to the usual 5-6 gm of salt by the time they are 10 years old.
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