Nearly three quarters of eight-month-olds consume too much salt, according to a recent survey by researchers at the University of Bristol.
Salt can be found in processed foods like baked beans and tinned spaghetti. Many 8-month-olds are also given cows’ milk, which has a higher salt level than breast or formula milk, as their main drink – despite the warnings that babies should be at least 1 before drinking cows’ milk in this way.
“These findings show that salt intakes need to be substantially reduced in children of this age group. Infants need foods specifically prepared for them without added salt, so it is important to adapt the family diet,” said nutritionists Dr Pauline Emmett and Vicky Cribb, who conducted the research.
The researchers studied three-day dietary records that the mums of 1,178 8-month-old babies born in 1991 and 1992 completed.
High levels of salt can damage developing kidneys and encourage poor eating habits that continue throughout a child’s life and can cause health problems later in life.
“This research suggests that clear advice is needed for parents about what foods are suitable for infants. This should be given to all parents and carers and should include important advice not to use cows’ milk as a main drink before 12 months of age,” Pauline and Vicky added.