Q: Hallo doctor,
My daughter is a year old now, I was wondering at what age should I introduce salt in her meals?
A: Thanks for writing in and asking a very important question. Babies do not need much salt as their kidneys cannot handle it. Unfortunately, most of the foods we buy, already have a lot of salt and so it is easy to give too much.
Here is a quick guide to how much salt is required for growing children:
· Up to 12 months: less than 1g of salt daily (1g is about a quarter teaspoon)
o From birth to six months, these salt needs are met by breast milk or infant formula
o From six months to 12 months when you introduce other meals, do not add any salt to the meals.
· From 1 year to 3 years: 2g of salt per day (about half a teaspoon of salt)
· From 4 to 6 years: 3g of salt daily (about ¾ of a teaspoon of salt)
· From 7 to 10 years: 5g of salt daily (1 and a quarter teaspoons of salt)
· From 11 years: 6g of salt daily (1½ teaspoons of salt)
These are just guides but you are the custodian of how much salt your child grows up liking. Introducing them to salt too early is not just injurious to their health but also encourages them to develop a liking for salt early in life and this becomes a difficult habit to kick. Increased salt intake is associated with chronic ailments like hypertension.
Ensure that your baby takes food only meant for their age eg if you buy cereal, buy only those meant for their age. Adult cereals contain a lot of salt and this is not appropriate for growing babies. Examples of foods with high salt content include:
· Canned soups
• Stock cubes
In case you’re wondering how to make sure that your baby stays on the straight and narrow path of healthy living, then focus on fresh and natural foods. Fruits, veggies and balanced meals.
Generally, other weaning foods that can be introduced include:
Boiled egg yolk (egg whites contain substances that baby may react to), sweet potatoes, fish, chicken, beef, fruits like banana, avocados, boiled beans (with skin removed if possible etc
Simple recipes include, blend some chicken or beef with the stock or mash a banana and add to baby’s cereal.
Our local cereals can also be used and fortified with some breast milk or formula.
As baby tolerates these meals, you can get a little more adventurous.
Boiled carrots mashed with some coconut oil or a little yoghurt with mashed banana may not go amiss too.
An example of a recipe I make for my children is boil potatoes in a pot and place a stainless plate on top of the pot. Add your egg yolk and a drop Olive oil and when the yolk is cooked and potatoes soft, mash all together and feed baby.
Now I know we are all very busy, but weaning is no easy task and so we must commit to trying as much as to prepare these meals ourselves. Packaged meals usually contain additives that may trigger problems/allergies etc in the baby. Hygiene is also critical!
I hope y’all had a great day?