Is Your Baby Consuming Too Much Salt ?
05 Aug, 2011 - 10:59am
A study performed by researchers from Bristol University and Nutricia Ltd. (a division of the Danone food company) has suggested that as many as 7 out of 10 babies were consuming too much salt in their diets. One of the most shocking statements to come out of the 18 year old study was that giving cow’s milk to babies is a health risk as it contains as much as four times the amount of salt than breast milk or formula.
The study, done in 1993, looked at both the diets and the salt intake of more than 1000 eight month old babies (644 male babies and 534 female babies). 79% of babies in the study had their first solids introduced to them between the ages of three and four months, and though most at that time were still receiving breast milk or formula milk, 13% of the children received cow’s milk.
The recommended sodium intake for a baby of this age is 0.4g of sodium a day.
Cow’s milk has a significantly higher sodium content (55mg/100g) when compared to both formula (15-30mg/100g) and breast milk (15mg/100g). Not surprisingly, the 25% of babies who had the highest sodium intake were more likely to be taking cow’s milk than the babies with a low sodium intake.
Cow’s milk isn’t the only food to blame for introducing higher sodium levels to youngsters. In 1993 a lot of baby foods were high in sodium. For example:
- Dry baby cereal contained 71mg/100g
- Jars of savoury baby food contained 72mg/100g
- Jars of sweet food contained 15mg/100g
Other foods that were commonly fed to babies also contained high amounts of sodium, such as:
- Bread at 180mg/slice
- Cornflakes or Rice Krispies at 22mg/portion
- Cheese at 67mg for 10g of cheddar
- Gravy granules 153mg from 1 Tablespoon of made up gravy
- Marmite: 45mg from one gram
- Canned spaghetti contained 420mg/100g
- Weetabix 54mg/biscuit
Fortunately producers of children’s food have since reduced the amount of sodium that they have in their foods. For example:
- Dry baby cereal contained 41mg per 100g in 2010
- Jars of savoury food contained 51mg per 100g in 2010
- Jars of sweet food contained 15mg per 100g in 2010
While there has been an obvious reduction in sodium levels for foods that are made specifically for babies, it’s still important for parents to note that the regular “every day” foods are a high contributor to a baby’s sodium intake as well, particularly foods such as canned spaghetti, which to this day still contains high amounts of sodium. The researchers also emphasize that drinking cow’s milk as a main drink may very well make a large contribution to daily salt intake.
It's recommended that babies under 12 months should not be given any cow’s milk at all due to the high sodium intake concerns. What parents should take from this study is that there is a need to read and decipher the labels of all foods given to their babies and make wise, conscious decisions prior to offering foods to their children.