MUNDE: Is it safe to add salt to a baby's food?
Many pediatricians advise against giving toddlers under one year old sugary foods and drinks as well as adding salt to their food.
This includes fruit juices (parents are advised to give plain water instead, even though some babies are not fans of it. Sometimes, you are advised to give water with watermelon - the colour could encourage your baby to drink it).
Other foods and drinks to avoid include honey, salted foods and candy.
But what do you do when your toddler refuses to eat that plain pumpkin puree or plain steamed mashed matoke?
Pediatricians advise that babies can take up to 15 exposures to a new food before they accept it. Sounds like a lot? It is, but as you might have already learnt with parenthood - it will continuously test your patience and teach you to be a patient person.
There are some foods a baby will naturally like, and this is usually fruits, and sweet ones specifically - like bananas and mangoes.
However, once your baby is six months and above, he/she will need nutrients from all the food groups - carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables and fats. Fruits do not offer enough nutrition and breastmilk and/or formula doesn't offer enough nutrition after 6 months.
There are some tips that can help you sweeten your baby's food if they are not appreciating plain good.
Try adding cinnamon as a natural sweetener instead of sugar and honey.
For the babies that have a salty tooth, try a little amount of lemon.
There are foods that have natural sweetness or naturally taste good without salt, like pumpkin, but sometimes some babies will still reject the foods.
So can you add salt?
The answer is personal.
I will tell you what a pediatrician told me. Do not take it as the gospel truth. Do what works for you and consult a pediatrician.
The pediatrician I talked to said that while it is advisable not to add salt, one can try adding a pinch (not a tablespoon) of salt to flavour your baby's food if your baby completely refuses to eat plain food after trying to feed him/her for those 10-15 times.
Too much salt is associated with the destruction of a baby's kidneys, so be warned.
With that information, seek professional advice and make a decision based on what works for you and your baby - you don't want to starve your baby in the case where a baby refuses to eat plain food, but you also do not to damage your baby's kidneys.
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