When is it safe to introduce salt to baby's diet?

Q: My baby is 7 months old. When is it safe to start introducing salt to his food?

A: It’s wise to avoid adding any extra salt to your baby’s food. Babies and children only need a tiny amount of salt in their diets, and that need is generally met through breast milk or infant formula. As your baby gets older and begins eating table food, he’ll get plenty of “hidden” salt in these foods. Even as adults, it’s not wise to add salt to foods—we get plenty in our diets!

Adding too much salt to a baby’s food can be harmful to his immature kidneys, which might not be able to process the excess salt. Salting baby foods also can also lead to a lifelong preference for salty foods, and that can endanger a child’s future health. Most Americans already consume far too much salt for good health, and our love of salt contributes to high blood pressure and a number of other serious health issues.

While it’s tempting to add salt to a baby’s food in an effort to improve the taste of the food, there’s undoubtedly a better way to encourage your baby to eat. Try experimenting with different flavors and textures of baby foods. There’s a good chance that you and your baby will find a salt-free food that he’s really crazy about.

Answered by Dr. Rallie McAllister

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