What’s the Big Deal With Honey, Salt, and Sugar?
With baby led weaning, there are just a handful of “rules” that you’re supposed to follow. Three of them say no honey, no added salt, and no added sugar.
First, here’s a thought: Babies don’t know if something is “bland”. We have acquired tastes, as adults. We like sweet things and we like salty things. But babies have only been drinking breastmilk or formula for as long as they’ve been alive! So they don’t care if it’s “bland”. To them, it’s a brand new flavor.
Besides that, though, what’s so bad about honey, salt, and sugar?
The rule is “no honey before the age of 1”. But why is that? “Honey can contain spores of a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which can germinate in a baby’s immature digestive system and cause infant botulism, a rare but potentially fatal illness.” (Source) Interestingly enough, most babies who contract infant botulism don’t get it from honey. They swallowed microscopic dust particles that contained the spores. (Source)
To be safe, don’t bake with honey. Don’t give it as a sweetener. Don’t give anything that has honey as an ingredient. Period. After at least 12 months, it’s considered to be safer.
We add salt to our food almost absentmindedly. But there are a ton of other herbs and spices you can use instead of salt!
The rule is that a baby under a year shouldn’t have more than 400 mg of sodium in a day. (The picture at the very top is what 400 mg of sodium looks like… it’s about 1/4 teaspoon.)
1/4 teaspoon isn’t very much, really. But take this recipe for example: It’s for blueberry muffins. And it calls for a pinch of salt. Let’s just say it’s 1/4 teaspoon, even though it’s less than that. But for the sake of the example, let’s say it’s 1/4 teaspoon. That means that entire recipe contains 400 mg of sodium. It made 10 muffins, which means each muffin contains 40 mg of sodium. I don’t know about your baby, but my baby would only eat 1 muffin in a day (maybe 2!). In order to meet the quota for daily salt intake, my baby would need to eat TEN BLUEBERRY MUFFINS.
Do you see what I’m getting at? Even though 1/4 teaspoon is not much, the chance that your baby is really going to consume that much in a day is unlikely. If you do eat something that’s extra salty (pre-made food is almost always more salty than homemade), just monitor the salt intake for the rest of the day.
But what’s so bad about salt anyway? The short answer is that babies’ kidneys are too immature to deal with added salt. If a baby has too much salt on a regular basis, it can lead to high blood pressure, and it triples the risk of heart disease and stroke later in life. It can increase the baby’s risk of stomach cancer and obesity as well. (Salt makes you thirsty. So you want to drink more. If you drink water, great, but if you’re drinking soda or juice, then salt makes you drink more of it!) (Source)
The biggest issue with sugar is that it can cause tooth decay! The daily limit of sugar for a baby is approximately 2 teaspoons. That’s the MAX. In other words, don’t offer it just because you can!
I do occasionally use a little sugar if I’m baking. But often I substitute the sugar with something like agave nectar. And for baking, I usually just swap the sugar for unsweetened applesauce!
If you’ve got questions, always feel free to ask! You can contact me through the “CONTACT ME” link at the top.