A new study was just released from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition that studied the salt intake in the diets of 8 month olds.
Excessive sodium intake can lead to potential harmful effects on the developing kidneys and blood pressure later in life. Data was collected on over 1000 8mo old infants using a 3 day diet diary. The majority of infants were introduced food between 3-4 months, with plain rice rusks and other cereals being the first foods consumed. Seventy percent of infants consumed more than 400mg of sodium per day with the upper limit at over 1000mg/day. Infants in this large sodium intake group were consuming large amounts of cows milk and eating 3x the amount of bread as the lowest sodium intake group. They were also eating food that contains salty flavourings such as gravy and yeast extract. The yeast extract actually contains 6-12% MSG (or free glutamate). We all know to avoid MSG, so now it is also important to read labels and see what kind of foods your children are eating that contain these unnatural extracts. MSG has been shown to contribute to things like hyperactivity and headaches.
When dealing with little ones, we all know how easy it can be to whip out a mum mums, fishy crackers or bread in moments of need. Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of this myself at time!! I also agree that you cannot keep your child in a bubble. Even though I hate to admit it, and I will never be taking her there myself I am sure that at some point my daughter will consume the dreaded McDonalds Happy Meal!
How We Got Here
The point of this is we are the nation of convenience, and in turn we are feeding our children seemingly healthy snacks that in the end are contributing to health problems long term if consumed in excess. Who would have thought that whole wheat bread would be a problem for the 8month old, but the average piece of bread can contain upwards of 150mg of sodium. Add a couple of rice rusks and some fishy crackers and your little one is consuming an awful lot of salt.
To make matters worse, despite popular belief grains in general are not the best food for your baby. Traditional cultures didn’t feed their young infants grains, and those that did would wait to feed their babies gruel until over 12 months.
The truth is that babies cant digest grains until after 12 months, if not 2 years. Your newborn does not produce any amylase, which is the enzyme required to split starches. Salivary amylase makes a small appearance at 6mo, but the pancreatic amylase that you need to actually fully digest grains is not produced until the molar teeth are fully formed. First molars will usually appear between 13-19months
Undigested grains can wreak havoc on the infants developing intestinal lining. If this balance is thrown off, it can contribute to food allergies, allergies, behavioural problems, immune disturbances, skin problems and much more.
What To Feed your Baby Instead
- Vegetables – pureed
- Fats – Avocado, Egg Yolk, Bone Broth
Check out our blog for more helpful tips on feeding your baby and if you have any favourite healthy snacks you feed your baby, please leave a comment below and share them!