Your child’s taste buds and food preferences are determined by what you get them used to from a young age. The average 4 year old eats three times more salt than needed. So how do we control the amount of salt they eat while still giving them tasty food?

Before you throw away your salt shaker forever, you should know that all humans need salt, it regulates blood pressure and helps with nerve signals throughout our body. The problem is when we have too much of it. What children eat throughout their childhood impacts their health for the rest of their life, and that’s why reducing salt consumption in childhood will lower the chances of high blood pressure, stroke and other heart problems later in life. You are also the main influence in forming your child’s tastes in food, therefore, if food is over salted at home you run the risk of getting them used to highly salty foods that will continue as they age.

How Much Salt Should Children Consume?

Age Group (Years) Recommended Daily Limit (Grams)
1-3 2.5
4-8 3.5
9-13 5
14-18 6
  • 1 tsp = 6 grams of salt.

The first step to reducing your child’s salt intake begins in your shopping cart. Processed foods like crisps, cheese spreads, and ready made frozen meals are usually very high in added salt. Always choose natural ingredients whenever possible and, especially if you’re unsure, read the nutrition labels before making food choices.

Next, you need to look at how much salt you are adding to your cooking. You can reduce the amount of salt used without it being bland or tasteless by experimenting with different seasonings to add variety and flavor to your meals. Here are some suggestions:

  • Basil:Fish, lamb, lean ground meats, stews, salads, soups, sauces, fish cocktails
  • Bay leaves:Lean meats, stews, poultry, soups, tomatoes
  • Cider vinegar:Salads, vegetables, sauces
  • Cinnamon:Fruits (especially apples), breads, pie crusts
  • Curry powder:Lean meats (especially lamb), veal, chicken, fish, tomatoes, tomato soup
  • Dill:Fish sauces, soups, tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, cucumbers, potatoes, salads, macaroni, lean beef, lamb, chicken, fish
  • Garlic(not garlic salt): Lean meats, fish, soups, salads, vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes
  • Ginger:Chicken, fruits
  • Lemon juice:Lean meats, fish, poultry, salads, vegetables
  • Mustard powder:Lean ground meats, lean meats, chicken, fish, salads, asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, mayonnaise, sauces
  • Nutmeg:Fruits, pie crust, lemonade, potatoes, chicken, fish, lean meat loaf, toast, veal, pudding
  • Onion powder(not onion salt): Lean meats, stews, vegetables, salads, soups
  • Paprika:Lean meats, fish, soups, salads, sauces, vegetables
  • Parsley:Lean meats, fish, soups, salads, sauces, vegetables
  • Peppermint extract:Puddings, fruits
  • Rosemary:Chicken, veal, lean meat loaf, lean beef, sauces, potatoes, peas, lima beans
  • Sage:Lean meats, stews, biscuits, tomatoes, green beans, fish, lima beans, onions
  • Thyme:Lean meats (especially veal), sauces, soups, onions, peas, tomatoes, salads
  • Turmeric:Lean meats, fish, sauces, rice