When babies are ushered into this world, they are very dependent on us for literally everything including what goes into their bellies as food. Children are supposed to be exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of their lives and there after introduce solid foods alongside breastmilk, what we call complementary feeding.
When we introduce solid foods to our children, there is no doubt that we want to make their food as ‘tasty’ and enjoyable as we would want to taste it so we figure we can always add some sugar and salt to their food so that it is not as bland but your child DOES NOT need the sugar and the salt until they are one year. I know you are wondering why, and I will tell you.
Why you should avoid adding salt to your child’s food
Compromised kidney function
Babies have just made an entry into the world and development is still ongoing. They have a delicate system and salt may effect their kidneys. Their kidneys are unable to process a high amount of added salt. As a matter of fact children below the age of one are supposed to have less than 1g of sodium per day according the Scientific Advisory Committee report on Nutrition (SCAN).
Excess sodium from salt can cause the body to excrete more calcium in the urine. This calcium can form kidney stones that carries with it severe pain in the body, fever and chills, nausea and vomiting, burning sensation while urinating, and blood in the urine. I am not sure you want that for your baby.
An increase in sodium levels in the body, in turn, causes excretion of too much calcium. We all know how important calcium is for a growing child, they need for the development of strong bones and teeth. Calcium depletion can lead to a condition called osteoporosis which makes the bones thin and brittle.
Did you know that just like in adults, babies too can develop hypertension also known as high blood pressure and high salt intake can cause it.
Last but not least, unlike adults, babies are not be able to indicate that they are thirsty, d until serious symptoms show up. Babies who have excess salt in their bodies are in danger of dehydration, as salt causes the body to lose water in the form of urine and sweat thus increasing their risk of getting kidney stones, joint and muscle damage, constipation, and liver damage.
Why you should avoid adding sugar to your babies food
Sugar lacks protein, fat, and nutrient density which babies need the most at this point in their life and when the sugar is in excess, can lead to an increased risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and dental caries.
It is also important to mention that babies have an innate preference for sweetness, so it’s important to give them ample time to develop a palate for healthy foods that do not contain added sugar. If this not done, the struggle to consume healthier options of food will be an uphill task.
Have you noticed that when toddlers are given sugar or foods with high sugar content they become hyperactive? The same will happen to your baby and the reason is that since sugar is absorbed into the blood very quickly, high sugar consumption causes the blood sugar levels to shoot up. This leads to higher adrenaline levels and causes hyperactivity in children.
Babies’ sugar and sodium (salt) needs can be met in the breastmilk and the natural foods that they are consuming. The reason your baby could be resisting breastmilk could be that they were introduced to salt and sugar early and they are now missing out on the immense advantages of breastmilk.
Increase the variety of foods prepared for your baby as a way of adding flavor to your child’s diet and carefully read the nutrition labelling of manufactured foods for babies that you opt to buy taking into consideration that sodium and sugar content therein. Fruits like bananas are a good source of natural sugars so there is no need for added sugars.
I will end by saying DO NOT give honey to babies either.
See you next Wednesday