Everyone’s parents have embarrassing or hilarious stories about their children that they love to tell friends. My mom’s best is the story about when I tried to dump an entire saltshaker into my mouth as a baby. My parents took me out to a local restaurant when I was just under a year old, and I was sitting at my booster seat minding my own business while my parents carried on a conversation. To my parent’s shock, I managed to screw the top off of the saltshaker and proceeded to dump it in my mouth. Needless to say, I stopped when my mouth was full and my mom jumped across the table to wipe the salt from my mouth, but the trip ended in embarrassment, tears, and a ride home before the food was served. While she rehashed this shining moment of mine recently, I began to wonder how bad salt really is for babies, considering many experts warn against it. As it turns out, salt really isn’t that bad as part of a baby’s diet, but too much could cause a lifelong addiction.
According to a recent study, babies who often eat salty and starchy foods such as crackers and cheese are more likely to love salt later in life. These children were the same ones who later licked salt off of food as preschoolers and were even tempted to eat salt on its own. Too much salt is definitely a bad thing since a diet with too many high sodium foods is very unhealthy. However, some parents take this too far and think they can’t cook with salt once baby switches to table food. This is totally untrue, and it’s okay to add salt to every meal. However, you shouldn’t be shaking salt onto something that’s already cooked and you should avoid packaged foods as much as possible. Even if you home cook something with a lot of salt, it will still be less than a packaged food that contains preservatives. An adequate amount is approximately 370mg per day because there are some good things that salt does too.
When I read that too much salt as a baby causes a salt addiction, I laughed out loud, because I am quite literally a salt fiend. As long as your baby doesn’t drink the table salt or eat too many processed kinds of cheese and snacks, some salt is okay.
Source: Leslie J Stein et al: The Development of Salty Taste Acceptance is Related to Dietary Experience in Human Infants. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Volume 95 Issue 1 pp. 123-129 January 2012