Can I put salt in my baby's food? This will also include the ever famous ikan bilis
I've just reviewed a good article about why we should give salt or anything salty to babies who are weaning and starting solids.
You should not add salt to your baby's food in the first year as this may damage her kidneys. At this age, your baby's kidneys are not mature enough to handle the salt loading. Besides, salt exists naturally in the foods you feed your baby.
In the first six months of life your baby needs less than 1g of salt per day, which she will usually obtain from breastmilk or formula milk. Between seven and 12 months this increases slightly to around 1g. Toddlers aged one to three years need less than 2g (this is the equivalent of 0.8g sodium per day).
To stay within these recommendations you should aim to:
• limit salty foods in your baby's diet
• don't add salt during cooking
• avoid processed foods, such as ready meals, pies, biscuits, crackers, soups, gravies, sauces, pizza, tinned vegetables, cheese, bacon and crisps, which are all very high in salt, and offer low-salt alternatives.
Foods made specifically for babies, such as jar foods and infant cereals, have a low salt content, as salt is not added during processing. These should not be confused with foods aimed at older children. These can be highly processed and have a high salt content and are therefore not suitable for your baby.
If you do choose to offer your baby or toddler high-salt foods, it is recommended that you only offer small amounts occasionally.
Salt is usually labelled as sodium on food labels: 1g of sodium is equivalent to 2.55g of salt. Read food labels carefully and aim to choose those foods with a sodium content of no more than 0.1g of sodium per 100g.
Suitable low-salt foods for your baby include fruit, vegetables and salad, plain meat, poultry and fish, eggs, pulses and milk. Whether they are fresh, tinned or frozen shouldn't make a difference as long as they have no added salt (tinned vegetables often have salt added so be especially careful to check these). Rice and dried pastas are also low in salt provided they have had no salt added during cooking. Make a habit of reading food labels, and you will soon get to know which are the most suitable foods to buy.
Reviewed by Dr Tan Siew Pin