Why no Salt and Sugar for babies? As a parent, you are always get advised by pediatricians or fellow moms not to add salt and sugar to your baby's food before one year. Wondered why? There is no sugar or salt for babies below one year.
Taste preferences for sugar and salt are primarily natural in babies. Many will agree that sugar & salt will give happiness and enjoyment of food. This happy relationship becomes a problem when it is excess. It is especially harmful to infants and small children as they have fragile systems.
Also too much salt or sugar means the baby will not enjoy the natural taste of foods and vegetables. And this habit began early and probably lasted throughout life. Read further to know in detail how salt and sugar affect growing babies.
Why No Salt for Baby Before One Year?
Before your baby is six months old, they get all the salt requirements from breastmilk/ formula milk. Babies aged 6-12 months need less than 1000 mg (approximately less than 1 g of salt) a day. Their kidneys are too immature to handle more salt than the recommended amount. It is easy to get that salt amount naturally in foods without adding salt.
Breast milk/Infant formula milk and most Foods such as fruits, vegetables, lentils, eggs, etc. naturally contain salt, and there is no need to add extra salt to your baby's food for one year.
The below table shows the Salt Requirement for babies, toddlers, and Kids:
|Age||Salt Per Day||teaspoon|
|Less than one year (0 to 12 months)||less than 1000 mg or 1g (0.4 g of sodium)||0.18 teaspoon|
|1 to 3 years||2000 mg or 2 g (0.8g of sodium)||0.35 teaspoon|
|4 to 6 years||3000 mg or 3 g (1.2g of sodium)||0.53 teaspoon|
|7 to 10 years||5000 mg or 5 g ( 2 g of sodium)||0.88 teaspoon|
|11 years and above||6000 mg or 6 g (2.4 g of s0dium)||1.05 teaspoon|
Your baby’s kidneys can't handle more salt than the recommended amount and may damage the kidney which does some vital functions in our body. Eating excess salt may also cause brain damage, High Blood Pressure, hypertension, kidney diseases, etc. as they grow. Babies don't know the difference between salted and unsalted food, hence encouraging good habits from the start.
What about Salt Content in commercials Baby & Toddler's food?
Although most of parents prefer preparing homemade baby foods for their baby, there are some unavoidable circumstances they may opt for commercial baby foods. Salt has been omitted from commercially prepared baby foods such as jars or cereals. But it is essential to read the labels before buying.
Also, remember that toddlers also need minimal salt. Toddlers (1-3 Years) require only 2 g of salt daily. But the salt amount in commercial toddler food is still generally high. Examples: Breakfast Cereals, Pasta Sauces, Canned Vegetable Juices, Canned Vegetables, Canned Soups, cheese, bread, chips, etc.
Note that the food labels in the commercial baby or toddler food won't mention salt directly. Instead, it is written as Sodium. 2.5 g of salt is equal to 1g of sodium. Hence always multiply sodium amount * 2.5 to get the salt level. For example, 800 mg sodium means 800 * 2.5 = 2000 mg or 2 g of salt. It is good to avoid food containing more than 0.6g of sodium per 100g which is considered high in salt.
HOW TO MAKE BABY FOOD TASTY WITHOUT ADDING SALT?
You may feel that the baby food tastes bland without salt but don't worry your little star can't differentiate them. Most mothers get tempted to add salt as the baby refuses to eat when starting solid foods. They may reject the food due to a sudden change from breastmilk/formula milk. So please feed them with confidence.
If your baby still finds the food bland without salt, try flavoring the food by adding spices like ginger, garlic, cumin seeds, pepper, mustard seeds, sesame seeds, etc. in small amounts. Check out our baby food recipes for 6-12 months baby which is tasty and flavorful using spices and other seasonings. Also, if you are giving your baby family meals, remove a cooked portion before adding salt.
When is it safe to add salt to Baby Food?
After one year, you can add a pinch of salt to a maximum of 0.35 tsp(little less than ½ tsp) per day. Follow the salt requirements table above to meet his body's sodium requirement as your baby grows. You can also wait a few more months if your baby is enjoying the food without salt and for his immune system to become more powerful.
Why No Sugar for Baby below One Year?
The preference for sweet taste appears to be inborn in most babies. But what's so bad about sugar? White sugar is refined, loaded with harmful chemicals, and has zero nutrients. Sugar can also replace nutritious foods, contribute to being overweight, and cause dental cavities. Your baby doesn't need sugar before 12 months; it will help to prevent obesity, cardiovascular heart disease, and diabetes in the future.
Why is Sugar Harmful to Babies below 1-year-old
Though babies can have homemade desserts like kheer, halwa, etc. for any special occasion, when making desserts, remember that sweet doesn't always mean sugar; you can prefer fruit purees or dried fruits instead.
Sugar is best avoided in the first one or two years of life for the following reasons:
- Sugary items fill the little tummy without providing essential nutrients
- They may stick to the teeth, sugar helps the bacteria to grow, and this causes early tooth decay
- Excess sugar intake may lead to reduced immunity in children
- Children become sweet tooth for life if more sweets are introduced at a young age
- It makes the baby overweight and leads to obesity when babies eat more sweets regularly
What about Sugar water?
Sugar water is believed to relieve babies from colic pain. But No research evidence helps ease the pain; it may just distract the baby from it. If given in overdose, it may cause severe issues including seizures. Also, too much sugar water will affect the babies' natural desire for breast milk/formula milk. So it is better to avoid sugar water for babies below one year.
HOW TO make BABY FOOD tasty WITHOUT ADDING Sugar?
Use mashed banana or other fruits, breast milk, or formula milk to sweeten food. Use fresh sweet fruits/fruit purees like apple, banana, and pear as sweeteners or add in minced or pureed dry fruits such as figs, raisins, apricots, etc. Here is a list of handy and safe sweeteners for the baby before 12 months rather than sugar
- Apple Sauce
- Mashed Banana
- Date Syrup
- Dry Dates powder
- Raisins Syrup
- Raw banana powder
- Dry Fruits puree
Can I add Jaggery, Palm Jaggery/ Palm Sugar or other natural sweeteners to Baby Food?
Jaggery, palm jaggery, palm candy, and palm sugar are primarily used in India as healthy sweeteners. These are natural sweeteners loaded with nutrients. But for babies below one year, it may not be a good idea to give them a sweetener regularly as the baby develops a sweet tooth in the early years. You can occasionally add them to your baby's dessert when making desserts after consulting with your baby's pediatrician.
Jaggery, palm jaggery, and palm candy are suggested in rural areas by many pediatricians for babies who suffer from malnutrition as they may be a cheap energy source for them. But the babies living in urban areas get all the nutrients through proper care, and they don’t need jaggery or any other natural sweetener in their diet.
When is it safe to add Sugar or other healthy sweeteners to Baby Food?
You can add cane sugar (nattu Sakkara), palm candy (Panam Karkandu), palm jaggery (karupaati), coconut sugar, and honey after one year in moderation. Please avoid white sugar as it is processed with harmful chemicals.
Here are some healthy homemade sweeteners suitable for toddlers and kids
Remember that it will be a hard habit to break once your baby acquires a love for salt or sugar. Prevention is the best approach!
- Please note that exclusive breastfeeding/formula feeding is recommended until six months.
- The information provided here is guidelines and doesn’t replace medical advice.
- Check with your doctor immediately if your baby has a poor appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea, as dehydration leads to dangerous effects. The doctor may help you determine the problem's cause and treat it.
- Always check with your pediatrician before introducing any new food.