Salt Cravings in Children and Tips to Reduce Salt in Your Child’s Diet

Should salt be a concern in my child’s diet? Is your child craving salt? Is your child eating too much salt? We will address all of these questions in our blog post and provide medical guidance on how much salt should be in your child’s diet.

Is Salt Bad?

Reducing salt in a child’s diet is often overlooked or not worried about because we tend to see risks of high salt intake as an “adult problem”. But actually, However,  according to the CDC, 1 in 6 children have elevated blood pressure which over time, research has shown can lead to early heart disease and premature death.  The American Heart Association recommends less than 2300mg salt (about 1 tsp) per day for children 14-18yrs and even less for younger children.  An NHANES 2011-2012 study reported that over 90% of children ages 6-18 consume above the recommended levels, with an average intake of over 3200 milligrams daily.

How to Reduce Salt in Your Child’s Diet

So how can we as families aim to lower our overall salt intake in our daily meals? Indeed this should be tackled as a family unit as all can benefit from reduced sodium.  The same NHANES study found that 50% of salt intake in children comes from just 10 foods including pizza, bread, deli meats, chips/crackers, hamburgers, cheese, breaded chicken products, pasta with sauce, Mexican foods like burritos and tacos, and soups. Limiting these foods to once a day or less can significantly lessen salt intake.  

Some great tips:

  • Read your Nutrition Fact Labels – aim for less than 200mg salt per serving
  • Go for the unpackaged (this includes cans, boxes, and frozen foods) and eat foods that are found in their natural, unprocessed state like fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid salt for young children. Taste preferences develop at a very young age – the sooner they start, the more they will prefer salty foods
  • For the family, avoid saltshakers at the table and prepare cooked foods with fun herbs and spices that don’t contain salt. If you are used to cooking with salt, consider trying to reduce it by half.

Working to change our daily salt intake as a family today can improve our health outcomes tomorrow!  

About The Youth Clinic

The Youth Clinic providers are Northern Colorado’s specialists in the treatment of infants, children, and young adults.

We have cared for generations of area youth for 50 years and take pride in our role as both a partner and resource to parents in the development of their children. Our state-of-the-art facilities provide an accommodating and welcoming atmosphere where we deliver the finest medical treatment available.

Are you new to the area, transferring care from another clinic, looking for a new provider for your child, heard about our clinic, and want to hear more? Fill out our new patient form and get started with The Youth Clinic today!