Babies can develop a craving for salty foods, according to new research. Modern processed foods are high in sodium, and this seems to be increasing babies’ preference for salt in their diet.
Sixty-one babies from Philadelphia were involved in the study. They were given bottles with plain water and salty water to drink for two minutes a time. The salty water was in two different solutions – 1% (the same saltiness as chicken noodle soup) and 2%.
The babies’ reactions to these drinks were measured at 2 months of age and again at 6 months.
At 2 months, all of the babies were indifferent to whether they drank plain or mildly salty water, though they flat-out refused the water with 2% salt.
By 6 months, the reactions had changed. Those babies who had already begun eating processed foods, such as cereals and bread, showed a preference for the salty, while those who had stuck to baby food and naturally low-sodium foods did not have the same preference.
More investigation is necessary, but the study show a link between the early introduction of high sodium foods and a liking of salt later in life.
“It might be a guide for parents about how to introduce their children to healthy foods,” said researcher Leslie Stein.