Salt and children: when to use it and what WHO says

Salt and children: when to use it and what WHO says
Fonte: shutterstock

It is the dose that makes the poison

High blood pressure, cardiovascular problems and obesity are the main risks associated with an excessive consumption of sodium, the main constituent of salt. To prevent such pathologies It is a good idea to pay attention to the amount of sodium that not only adults but also children take.

Since doubts about the use of salt in children's nutrition are very common (and absolutely legitimate), let's try to clarify some of them.

In this article


From what age can salt be added to food?

If tasting the baby food prepared for your children this seems insipid, do not fall into the temptation to add even a pinch of salt!

Before 9 months, the added salt is absolutely to be avoided because the kidneys are not yet ready to cope with this substance. Even better, according to pediatricians, if we postpone the introduction of salt into the diet after the first year of age. Babies need very small amounts of salt which are satisfied in the first months of life thanks to breast milk or specially formulated milk. Weaning products, for example, do not contain any and it is good that even mum and dad limit as much as possible the amount of high-salt foods offered to children.

So do not despair if the baby food seems not very tasty, children love delicate flavors and it is good not to accustom them from an early age to too salty foods.

Read also: The child does not want to eat: 10 tips

How much salt to add to the baby food?

Therefore, after the child's first year of age, it is possible to gradually add salt, being careful not to overdo it. Here are the quantities recommended by the UK Department of Health and Welfare:

  • Up to 12 months: less than 1 g of salt per day (less than 0,4 g of sodium).
  • From 1 to 3 years: 2 g of salt per day (0,8 g of sodium).
  • From 4 to 6 years: 3 g of salt per day (1,2 g of sodium).
  • After 7 years: 5 g of salt per day (2 g of sodium).

From the seventh year of age, children should introduce no more than five grams (one teaspoon) of salt per day through their diet. The recommendation made by the World Health Organization (WHO) also applies to adults.

Beware of hidden salt

Beware of hidden salt
Let us remember that salt very often hides among foods that we commonly buy. Sodium is found in foods such as:

  • Cow milk,
  • cheeses, especially in mature ones,
  • meat,
  • fish,
  • bread, crackers, breadsticks,
  • cold cuts and, more generally, in all processed meat,
  • breakfast cereals,
  • sauces like ketchup and mayonnaise.

At the supermarket it is a good idea to consult the nutritional tables. If the sodium value is given instead of salt, remember that foods that contain more than 0,6 grams of sodium per 100 grams are to be considered rich in salt and therefore it is better to avoid them.

Read also: How to make children love (and eat) vegetables

Which salt is best to buy?

When we go shopping, the choice to make is very simple: it is better to always prefer iodized salt, as also recommended by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità. Iodine is a precious ally for the health of young and old. This micronutrient contributes to the functioning of the thyroid gland and is essential for the correct development of the child.

What does excessive salt intake involve in children's diets?

Excessive use of salt is harmful to present and future health. Excess salt, and therefore sodium, is also associated with an increase in blood pressure in children. In fact, recent studies indicate a relationship between salt consumption in childhood and an increase in the risk of hypertension and obesity. Educating children to eat less salt will help them be healthier adults in the future.

Read also: The child has no appetite: what to do?

How to replace or reduce the amount of salt in children's nutrition

In the kitchen there are various allies to significantly reduce the use of salt. Spices, herbs, lemon, onion and garlic can be used to enhance the flavor of a dish.
Other precautions to be taken can be:

  • limit the purchase of ready-to-eat foods.
  • Rinse canned vegetables and legumes well before eating them, remembering that it is always better to prefer fresh ones.
  • Learn to read labels to choose products with less salt.
  • Cook the pasta without or with a little salt, or salt only the sauce.
  • Limit the consumption of processed meat such as sausages and cured meats.
  • Limit the purchase of bagged potato chips and other salty snacks.

The best suggestion, however, remains to set a good example for your children, choosing low-salty and healthy foods for the whole family.

Read also: Back to class, the right diet

  • child diet
  • pregnancy feeding
  • healthy nutrition
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