SALT – How Much is Too Much?

How much salt should babies have?

Babies need only a very small amount of salt - less than 1g a day up to 12 months. Their kidneys can't cope with larger amounts of salt. Babies who are breastfed will get the right amount of salt through breast milk. Infant formula contains a similar amount.Remember not to add salt to food you make for your baby or give to him or her. And be careful not to give him/her foods that aren't made specifically for babies, such as breakfast cereals and pasta sauces, because these can be high in salt.

How much salt should children have?

The daily recommended maximum for children depends on their age:

  • 1 to 3 years - 2 g salt a day (0.8g sodium)
  • 4 to 6 years - 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium)
  • 7 to 10 years - 5g salt a day (2g sodium)
  • 11 and over - 6g salt a day (2.4g sodium)

These are the recommended maximums for children. It is better for them to have less.

When you're buying foods, even those aimed at children, remember to check the information given on the labels so you can choose those with less salt. Remember there is no need to add salt to your child's food. If children have too much salt, this could affect their health in the future. And it could also give them a taste for salty food, which means they're more likely to continue eating too much salt when they grow up.

SALT MYTHS

We can tell what foods are high in salt because they taste salty – FALSE

  • Some foods that are high in salt don't taste very salty. Sometimes this is because they have lots of sugar in them, for example some biscuits and breakfast cereals.Also, our taste buds get used to high levels of salt, so you might not notice the saltiness of some foods. When people get used to eating less salt their taste buds become more sensitive. So sometimes when they eat a food they used to eat all the time, they are surprised to find how salty it tastes.

We need more salt in hot climates because we sweat so much – FALSE

  • We only lose a small amount of salt through sweat, even in extremely hot places. So there's no need to eat more salt in hot climates. But it's important to drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.