Salt gets a bad rap.
We blame it for an array of diseases and aliments, from high blood pressure to autoimmune disease.
Whilst I fully agree excessive salt is no good I want to show a positive side to salt and how in careful amounts it can be added to home-cooked weaning foods.
As parents it is something you are advised by your health care professional along with numerous weaning books, not to add salt to your baby’s food until reaching at least 12 months old. Even then you are advised to add very sparingly.
I spoke to my usual go-to person, Auntie Mary, on this subject. Her childrearing time was pre-baby food ranges and before many of today’s do’s and don’ts were introduced. She told me how she used Oxo cubes to add flavour. This prompted me to look into this in greater detail.
Salt is an essential mineral, meaning it is necessary to sustain optimal health.
It supports enzyme function, hormone production, transport of energy and protein, to mention just a few. During pregnancy it becomes even more important as it now has to support the growth of both baby and mother.
In pregnancy, salt is responsible for :
⦁ supporting the development of brain cells, respiratory, nervous and cardio system.
⦁ metabolic function.
⦁ birth weight.
The baby gets their salt from the mother’s diet, just as they do with all the other vitamins, and minerals.
This continues during the nursing/breast feeding period and will support the quality of milk produced. For formula-fed babies, products will contain the correct levels.
Salt has such a vital role in a baby’s development that in premature babies it is given as a supplement.
If salt is so crucial why do we advise adding NO salt to weaning foods?
If I reflect on the way I salt my own food I probably can from time to time be a bit heavy handed, but does the recommendation of NO salt fix the possibility of excessive salt added by a heavy handed, busy and stressed-out Mum?
Are we so afraid of salt in adulthood that we are afraid to include a healthy amount to our childrens’ food.
Not everyone has time to spend making home-cooked meals. So in an age of convenience and processed food, salt levels could already be too high.
Until looking further into this subject I, like you, followed guidelines and kept salt out of my son’s food. Now he is 18 months I am adding a little. I don’t measure out how much I use but instead rely on my instincts and taste. I try to make the food slightly salty without being overly salted.
If I had to do it again would I change this?
Yes, now I have a greater understanding of the role salt has to play I would start adding salt from the weaning stage. I home cooked 100% of his meals which gave me absolute control over what he ate. In my view this is the only way you can be assured they get exactly what they need. Including a healthy salt in take. If I could not cook all of his meals from scratch I would definately be reading all the labels very closely.
If you are still not convinced of salts important role, between 1984-1991 a law suit awarded $27 million to two familes. They blamed the chloride-deficient formula for their children not reaching their full intellectual potential and poor health. Whilst this is on the more extreme side of the salt debate but relevant nonetheless.
Has this changed the way you feel toward the weaning period? Tell me your thoughts.
Sally Dixey is a Crossfit London Coach in East London.
For Pregnancy and Post natal fitness and recovery consultations contact Sally on firstname.lastname@example.org