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How much salt is in starchy foods young children eat?

A recent study found that kids may develop a taste for salt early on, a recent study finds, if they’re fed starchy foods that contain sodium.
 
What foods are we talking about? Things like soft breads, cereals and crackers, items that many parents probably think nothing about handing to their kids.

In the study published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, infants tried out different concentrations of salt solutions and water to see which they preferred. Turns out those who had been exposed early to starchy foods--typically processed foods that contain sodium--drank more salty water than those who had not eaten those foods.

So how much salt do those foods really contain? We went on a sodium hunt to find out. Values are from the product websites unless otherwise noted.

Cheerios are a popular food with the infant set, and a one-cup serving has 160 milligrams. If your kids prefer something hot, a packet of instant Quaker oatmeal, the maple and brown sugar flavor, has 260 milligrams. Ever put a saltine in your kid’s hand? Five of those pack about 190 milligrams of sodium, according to Calorie King.

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Sixteen original variety Wheat Thins will cost you 230 milligrams of sodium. Maybe your kid is in the mood for something more child-friendly. A slice of nice, soft Wonderbread has 115 grams of sodium, and Gerber Graduates Lil’ Crunchies (it’s a baked whole grain corn snack) in the cheddar flavor have 50 milligrams in 18 pieces.

That doesn’t seem like that much--until you start thinking about how much sodium infants really need. Though there are no federal guidelines, the Institute of Medicine set adequate intake levels of daily sodium for children from birth to 6 months at 120 milligrams, and for babies 6 months to 1 year at 370 milligrams.

Needless to say, salt adds up, even with a few innocent crackers.


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