Do 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- Choose foods labeled "low sodium" or "no salt added."
- Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, or canned or frozen foods that don't come with a sauce.
- Find other ways to flavor your kids' food besides salt: Lemon juice, herbs, garlic, etc.
- Cook ingredients in their simplest form. In other words, instead of cooking flavored rice, cook plain rice and flavor it yourself.
- 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.
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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.
Are you aware of how much sodium your kids eat?
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