The Dangerous Ingredient Lurking in Your Toddler’s Food & What You Can Do About It

OMG 23

macaroni and cheeseDo you and your kids love those handy packaged toddler meals? Well you may love them less when you find out what's lurking in them. New research by the Centers for Disease Control reveals that most toddler food is alarmingly high in sodium. Over a thousand baby and toddler foods from the most popular brands were scrutinized, and the results should put us all on notice.

The good news is that baby foods tend to be lower in sodium. But that leap to toddler food means a giant leap in sodium. Over 75 percent of toddler foods are high in sodium -- meaning more than 210 milligrams. In fact, some foods had as much as 630 milligrams per serving! Keep in mind, a toddler's daily limit of sodium should be 1,500 milligrams. Did you know this? What should moms do?

  1. Welp, you probably already know the first thing: Read those nutrition labels! Pay special attention to serving sizes. The AHA says the worst culprits are savory toddler meals.
  2. Try to limit your child's sodium intake to under 1,500 milligrams per day. Another way to look at that is under 600 milligrams of sodium per meal.
  3. Choose foods labeled "low sodium" or "no salt added."
  4. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, or canned or frozen foods that don't come with a sauce.
  5. Find other ways to flavor your kids' food besides salt: Lemon juice, herbs, garlic, etc.
  6. Cook ingredients in their simplest form. In other words, instead of cooking flavored rice, cook plain rice and flavor it yourself.
  7. Prepare snacks in advance in larger batches, and divide for meals and snacks later on. For example, steam a lot of carrots and then keep the cooked carrots in the refrigerator for snacks that week.

More from The Stir: The Toxic Truth About Cute 'Kiddie' Bowls & Dishes

It's important that you start healthy habits early. I know from experience that you can shape your kids' salt (and sugar) preferences while they're young so they don't develop a taste for high-sodium foods. It can make a big difference! Another good reason to start young -- food just gets higher in salt the older your kids get.

sodium toddler foods

Are you aware of how much sodium your kids eat?


Image via bosscafez/Flickr

in the news, nutrition, toddler health, toddler meal


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

lalab... lalaboosh

Really? No one reads labels? Of course packaged meals are high in sodium, salt is a preservative...

And no, I don't worry about my family's sodium intake because I'm aware of it.

April... AprilJune

I can't wrap my mind around those pre packaged toddler meals....I won't eat a TV dinner, so I'm definitely not giving one to my child. I know they are convenient, but it just makes my stomach turn!

We try to eat from scratch meals, so that if we don't add salt, there is no salt in it. Of course we don't always, but we try!

Samantha N Kevin

I don't get it either. How hard is it to just make something. Not to mention, why wouldn't you read labels?!?

Julie Winkler

one thing that makes me cringe is gummy fruit snacks in between meals and on car rides because they are fussy, this was a 1 1/2 yr old. somewhat fussy eater but I'm sure the constant fruit and sweets did not help. one taste of candy/fake food, ofcourse that is what will always be wanted over real food. sadly I felt like I couldn't say anything because they are family.

Jdub372 Jdub372

I have honestly never known a kid who would eat those and I worked in a daycare center for four years and I was also a nanny on the side. I never even tried with my own daughter. Everything she was eaten in her entire life was produced by me, either breastmilk or homemade meals. No joke. Everything!

mrssu... mrssundin

We have only used them once and that was it. But I am not going to judge someone elses choices.

Ginny Flom Villers

Buy and make your kids real food.  Simple, healthy and much cheaper.  My older kids have eaten very few of these foods and my youngest has never eaten them.  It's simple to cut up some cheese, dice a little meat and steam some veggies.  Easy peasy.  :)

Tiffany Emerald

blah blah blah!! everyones such a damn downer about their food. eat what you like, not what society tells you is supposedly good for you. i dont read labels. hell i dont even know how to read the labels. all jibberish to me. ic also had 2 kids & dont work out regularly. i dont even weigh 130 & im super healthy

jessi... jessicasmom1

Thanks I always try fruit and vegetables limit meat

leona24 leona24

My toddler has what we are having. Those toddler meals are over priced junk. Its cheaper and healthier to feed them home made. And I can't believe people are dumb enough to buy into that crap. Its like that squeezable fruit and veggies they have for kids. How hard is it to offer fresh foods instead. Quit being so lazy!!!

1-10 of 23 comments 123 Last