Little bit of sugar and salt seem very harmless to your baby and at first it might also seem that your baby is really enjoying his or her food. But, be very careful because sugar and salt are not so great after all for babies. There are several risk factors associated by including sugar and salt in your infant’s diet.
Sugar and salt are two of the important seasonings without which our diet is not complete. At least for
children above the age of 6 years and adults sugar and salt are added as flavoring agents. Most of us believe that by adding salt and sugar, the flavor of food gets enhanced to a great extent.
When we look at both sugar and salt, salt is perhaps added more often to food than sugar. One of the main reasons being salt imparts a peculiar taste to food that most of us get hooked upto. Similarly, adding sugar to our beverages, fruit juices, milk, coffee, etc as we know adds a sweet flavor.
But, this is not true for infants. In fact, you shouldn’t add any salt or sugar to your baby’s food, until your baby is at least 1 or 1½ years old. Even at this moment, you shouldn’t add not more than a small pinch of salt and sugar in baby food.
When your baby is on a transition from breastmilk or formula milk to semi-solid foods at the age of 6 months, parents give commercially available baby food formulas. These baby food formulas include salt and sugar as one of the main ingredients. Salt is generally added to minimize microbial infections and sugar is added to enhance the flavor.
Disadvantages of adding salt to baby food
- The sodium present in common salt increases the risk of high blood pressure and kidney failure in babies. More importantly, the risk of high blood pressure is higher in infants and than in older kids. Hypertension is one of the leading causes of heart attacks and strokes in adults.
- Another reason why salt must be avoided in baby food is because excess salt in the body can cause kidney failure. Kidneys act as filters in the body eliminating excess of elements such as sodium, potassium, phosphorous, etc and maintain only required levels of elements. But, when excess of sodium or any other element will result in
- Another risk that salt carries is that high salt content in the body can lead to dehydration. This is due to the fact that salt in the body can only be dissolved with water and the water in the body is used to flush out the salt. One can relate this with one of the symptoms of diabetes. People suffering with diabetes feel the urge to urinate too often because the excess sugar in the body gets flushed out as it is dissolved in water, leading to dehydration.
Disadvantages of adding sugar to baby food
- Sugar is mainly added to sweeten milk, fruit juices, fruit mashes, porridges, puddings, yogurt, etc. By adding sugar to your baby’s food, essentially you increase the sweet cravings or give your baby ‘sweet tooth’. As the baby grows, he or she would eat only those foods laced with sugar and can refuse to accept any other foods.
- Adding sugar in baby food also increases the risk of tooth decay in babies. Oral bacteria rely on the leftover food in the mouth for their survival and sugar is perhaps the best food for them. They thrive with the traces of sugar present in the mouth and begin the process of tooth decay.
- Some parents have the habit of bottle feeding while their babies are lying down. Studies show that this practice increases the risk of ear infections. This happens because the baby with the bottle in the mouth. Sometimes the milk leaks out from the mouth and slides down into the ear. This gives a boost to the bacteria in and around the ear to increase in numbers and cause ear infections.
- Apart from tooth decay or ear infections, high sugar content in your baby’s diet can increase the risk of diabetes in the future years.
It is to be noted that sodium, in its natural form can be found in most natural foods including fruits, vegetables, cereals and lentils. Many fruits are also high in natural sugars. These sources are enough to satisfy your baby’s needs of sodium and sugar.
In a research conducted at the University of Calgary, Canada, it was found that 60% of commercial baby and toddler food products contained high salt and sugar content. The author argues that while the American Heart Association has given clear limitations for the intake of sugar for both adult males and females, there are no such recommendations or standards for infants, toddlers, children or adolescents. It is also further pointed that by adding salt and sugars to baby and toddler foods, the tastes of babies and infants are stimulated in the wrong direction and these tastes last for life time.
So, parents beware of the food that you give to your baby. Read the list of ingredients of baby food carefully and avoid adding sugar and salt, until your baby is at least 1 or 1½ years or older. By avoiding sugar and salt in the early years, you can make sure that your child does not develop salty cravings and sweet tooth and most importantly reduce the risk of developing deadly diseases like hypertension and diabetes both of which are leading causes of fatality.