As a parent of a newly-eating baby, you are likely aware of the salt in baby food that you serve. Most parents know that they should be cautious of how much salt they serve. But just how much is too much? Check out the recommendations below!
Here's a quick summary video of what you should know about salt and your baby!
The recommendation for a baby under one year of age is to have less than 400mg of sodium every day. There is some sodium in breastmilk and formula, which will usually account for a little less than half of a baby's daily sodium allotment. This means that you can feed your baby around 200mg of sodium daily. Put in layman's terms, your baby can get between 1/16 and 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt from food everyday.
A baby's kidney is not equipped to handle too much sodium. So there is a legitimate reason to be concerned about salt beyond the general hysteria around low-sodium foods for adults. With that being said, it is ok for babies to have some! Pay attention to any packaged foods you are giving your baby. Attempt to keep a general running tally throughout the day of sodium. You will find that it adds up quickly, but you can definitely keep the sodium in a good range with a little bit of knowledge.
During the first few months of eating, it is very unlikely that a baby will consume a large amount of sodium. Especially if you are being judicious in the purchased foods you provide. When baby's don't eat that much, it is just a hard proposition for them to get in a lot of sodium. And if a baby is self-feeding, it does take a while for them to start to ingest a decent amount of food!
As your baby gets older, it is likely that you will need to pay a little closer attention to their foods. Hidden sodium can be found in so many foods! Some examples are breads, tortillas, cheeses, olives, and canned tomatoes. Many of these do not have excessive amounts of sodium, but if your baby starts to eat larger amounts of them it can quickly add up.
As you are cooking meals for your family, you can always hold off on adding salt until after you have taken out your baby's portion. You can also try to find sodium free items. I know that you can buy sodium free breads (Trader Joe's has some), and you can also find sodium free canned tomatoes and olives.
Restaurant foods tend to be much saltier than what you would make at home. It is also very hard to determine how much sodium is actually in a dish. Even if the nutritional information is published, many chefs will add salt as they see fit, regardless of the recipe. There are a couple of ways you can approach this. My general recommendation is not to worry too much. As long as you aren't eating at a restaurant daily, or multiple times a day, it will all even out. Try and find something that would normally be cooked with less salt. Each type of restaurant is going to differ on what that might be. You can always ask the waiter's or cashier's opinion.
If you have a baby that doesn't eat that much yet, or in general, then you should be fine. If your baby usually eats a lot, there is always the option of bringing along some food for them that you know is low in sodium. I generally find that I can make do at restaurants with the food on the menu. I also want my daughter to experience the different flavors available. But if you're unsure what is there, it never hurts to bring your own food along.
Babies under one can have around 400mg of sodium every day. Some of that comes from breastmilk or formula. The rest can be obtained from foods. Keep the amount of salt to under 1/8 of a teaspoon a day. While restaurant food does tend to be saltier than homemade, giving your baby the occasional restaurant food will be fine, and is not something to be overly worried about.
For some ideas of balanced, low sodium foods, be sure to find me on Instagram where I post real life meals I feed my daughter.