If you are starting your weaning journey or are researching ahead of this exciting milestone, you’ll likely know that added salt is not recommended for babies. Children under the age of one should have no more than 0.4g of sodium per day (which is equivalent to 1g of salt!). It’s super important to be mindful of how much salt is added to or included in your baby’s diet. Exceeding this amount can lead to negative effects on the kidneys, which are still developing during this crucial stage of life.
As adults, we know that salt wakes up the flavour in food, but, it doesn’t mean that your baby’s salt-free meals need to be boring and bland… Far from it, in fact! What a baby eats in their first 1000 days informs their food preferences for life, so it’s key to offer them a variety of flavours, textures and tastes while they are young. And yes, that can include big flavours, herbs and spices!
Read on for our tips on how to cook delicious homemade baby food, without adding this no-go ingredient…
Stop focusing on the ‘no’…
When feeding your little one, it's tempting to think about what you can't feed a baby. Honey, sugar, salt... All of a sudden, you're starting to wonder what you can actually feed your baby! Sounds familiar? Start focusing on all the beautiful things your baby can eat - and how to make their plate as tasty, interesting and diverse as possible.
Including a wide range of fresh foods like fruits and vegetables (these can be fresh or frozen), different protein sources from oily fish to meat, poultry and plant-based options like beans or lentils, mixing up carbohydrate foods and dairy products (or suitable alternatives) all mean your baby will get plenty of variety, with many options containing minimal or no added salt.
We want to raise confident eaters and adventurous foodies - and after all, variety is the spice of life!
Take a walk through the spice aisle…
OK, so maybe you only shop online these days (I mean, who can actually face walking into a store with a baby in tow?!), but type 'spice' into the search bar of your online grocery, and you'll see so many options beyond salt. And the best part? Aside from hot chilli, nearly all herbs and spices are safe for babies to eat. Try incorporating herbs and spices into your baby's food to excite the palette and make food more flavoursome and interesting (we bet they'll love it!). Some of our favourites include cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, mint, parsley, paprika, basil and coriander! In our Chicken Korma, we’ve included Garam Masala, Paprika, Coriander, Turmeric and Cardamom, while we’ve flavoured our Veggie Lasagna with Marjoram, Oregano, Thyme, Parsley and Basil!
The other bonus? Babies who include a diverse range of tastes, including spices and herbs are more likely to go on to accept family meals and develop a more adventurous palate.
PS. Top tip when shopping - buying bags of herbs from the world food aisle is often SO much cheaper than small individual jars.
Use foods that are naturally ‘salty’…
Nature is pretty amazing. There are many foods out there that have a naturally 'salty' or savoury taste, without adding any unnecessary sodium. These include eggs, beetroot, chard, celery, artichoke and arugula. Options like nutritional yeast, or low-salt yeast extract are also great options to add to meals. And all are safe for babies aged 6 months and older - result!
Think ‘replacing’, not ‘omitting’…
It's a slight mental shift that can have a huge impact on taste - rather than thinking about 'cooking without salt,' you start to think about what you can add in to replace the salt. Get into the habit of starting with a low or no-salt meal when cooking for the family too (you can always add in your salt fix afterwards) - swap stock cubes for low or no-salt stock cubes and incorporate herbs, spice, and aromatics - all pack a flavour punch and make food fun and tasty.
The NHS advises you to not add salt to your baby's food or cooking water, and do not use stock cubes or gravy, as they're often high in salt - this is really important when you're cooking for the family if you plan to give the same food to your baby.
At Pots For Tots, all of our are free from added salt and are suitable for babies 8 months +. Plus, all of our meals have been developed with and approved by leading Children's Dietitian, Lucy Upton (aka) so you know your little one is getting all the goodness they need!