Should We Add Salt to Children's Food?

Should you add salt to children's food or not? In the following article, we'll clear up your doubts for you. Keep reading!
Should We Add Salt to Children's Food?

Last update: 29 September, 2021

Salt is one of the best flavor enhancers in the world. It makes culinary preparations more palatable and pleasing. But should we add salt to children’s food? The truth is that adding salt to children’s food is unnecessary and potentially dangerous.

During childhood, it’s best to establish good eating habits that can be maintained in the future. Therefore, it’s essential to provide the necessary nutrients for the growth of the child and avoid those elements that are harmful to their health.

We don’t need to add salt in order to provide a balanced diet

The first thing to understand is that salt is primarily made up of sodium. This mineral is very important for human health–but in the right amount.

Sodium is naturally present in food, so adding salt to meals is unnecessary and increases your intake considerably. If you exceed the desirable limit of this mineral, you may produce damage to your health.

However, there are contexts in which the consumption of salt is recommended. For example, in the case of athletes after intense activity. This is because your body loses abundant amounts of sodium through sweating and must be replaced.

However, this isn’t directly transferrable to infant food, as the amount of sodium that children acquire through food is sufficient for their bodies. As with many other nutrients, the requirements for this mineral in childhood are very different from those in adulthood.

A child picking vegetables from a garden.

Why isn’t it good to add salt to children’s food?

If possible, avoid adding salt to children’s food.

For many years, experts stated that this element could produce hypertension in the medium and long term, as evidenced by a study published in the journal Nutrients.

However, the most current research claims that the relationship between salt intake and blood pressure isn’t quite so clear. Hypertension could be due more to a genetic predisposition and alterations in the microbiota than to sodium intake.

The reason you shouldn’t add salt to children’s food is related to the need to accustom their palates to the real taste of food. This favors the incorporation and maintenance of good dietary habits.

You also have to keep sugar under control!

In addition to limiting the salt intake, it’s essential that you avoid adding sugar to children’s preparations. This ingredient can negatively condition the functioning of their bodies because it promotes intestinal inflammation and increases blood glucose levels.

A regular intake of sugar during the early stages of life is associated with an increased risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes. For this reason, it’s important to use it in moderation and avoid it whenever possible.

Similarly, pay special attention to nutritional labeling. Many products of common consumption have hidden sugars inside, although their flavors don’t show it. An example is packaged tomato sauces or packaged sliced bread. For this reason, it’s important to carefully review the ingredients of foods that your purchase in the supermarket before offering them to children.

Reducing salt intake in children is a positive habit!

As you’ve seen, the best option is to avoid the use of salt as an ingredient in children’s food. And, if you’re going to incorporate it into your preparations, do it in moderate amounts, unless your doctor has indicated otherwise for some specific health reason.

With this strategy, you’ll be able to get little ones used to the real taste of food, which is a very good habit from a nutritional point of view. Industries often offer products that are too flavorful and adulterated, which contain harmful substances or quantities that are inappropriate for health.

Finally, don’t forget to also limit the intake of simple sugars. Always check the labels to make sure this ingredient isn’t present in the food you offer to your children.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Grillo, A., Salvi, L., Coruzzi, P., Salvi, P., & Parati, G. (2019). Sodium Intake and Hypertension. Nutrients, 11(9), 1970.
  • Smiljanec, K., & Lennon, S. L. (2019). Sodium, hypertension, and the gut: does the gut microbiota go salty? American journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology, 317(6), H1173–H1182.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.