craving preference for salt begins as early as infancy, according to new research published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In an interesting experiment, researchers were able to show that the first types of solid foods given to a baby, will determine the level of lifelong preference for salt.
Here’s what they did:
… researchers studied 61 infants from the Philadelphia area at 2 months, then again at 6 months of age. At both points, they gave the babies three bottles, each containing water; a 1% salt solution, which mimics the saltiness of chicken noodle soup; or a 2% salt solution, which is the equivalent of doubling that bowl of chicken noodle soup’s saltiness.
The babies were given two minutes to drink out of each bottle. To assess each infant’s affinity for salt, researchers compared how much salt solution they drank compared to plain water. If they drank more of the salty bottles, they were categorized as preferring the salt solution; if they drank less, they were classified as rejecting it. Babies who drank the same amount of water or salty liquid were described as indifferent.
At 2 months of age, researchers found that babies were indifferent to the 1% solution and flat-out rejected the 2% mixture. But by 6 months, some appeared to have developed a taste for salt. Read more from Time…
So what happened in between month 2 and 6? Some of the babies began eating solids. Those that were given homemade mashed veggies and other unprocessed foods did not like the salt solutions. The infants who did sample prepared baby meals and snacks (which have added salt), were more likely to appreciate the salty drink.
So what should parents to babies do?
Wait with the solids.
Prepare homemade foods (it’s really easy to boil water and cook veggies, then mash them)
Read labels on baby food. You’ll be surprised at how some foods have more salt than imagined. This includes breads, cereals, Goldfish crackers, Animal crackers, etc…