Babies

When to start seasoning children's food with salt, oil, or herbs


As children grow up, they eat the same as adults, but here we must make an important note: we must be careful when it begins to seasoning children's food with salt, oil, and herbs because overusing them can be detrimental to your health.

As in many other things, the number of flavors that our taste buds are able to differentiate has varied in recent years, as relevant research has progressed.

Originally, there were 4 basic flavors, sweet, salty, acid and bitter. However, the umami flavor, associated with monosodium glutamate, came together a few decades ago, and is present in many foods, including our internationally known Serrano ham.

At present, it is discussed to incorporate some more flavors, such as spicy, astringent, fatty and floury to those already listed, since the taste buds can clearly separate them from the initial 4 or 5, making a final number, for the moment , of 9 basic flavors.

The baby is able to differentiate each and every one of these flavors from birth, moreover, he is able to taste them through the amniotic fluid during his intrauterine stay, although obviously some are more familiar to him than others. For example, given the sweetness of milk, both breast milk and formula, the sweet taste is the one that is best known to infants, although it is not necessarily the one they like best. In fact, some children get excited already from the womb when their mother eats some foods such as garlic or curry, traditionally known for their intense spicy flavor.

When starting complementary feeding, babies should become familiar with these other flavors, through foods or spices added to the meals themselves, but which ones? how? From what ages?

- Salt tops the list of prohibitions for babies for a very clear health reason: the renal system and arterial hypertension. Sodium chloride is present not only in our body but also in that of all living beings, be they animals or plants, so its contribution, although necessary, is 100% assured without the need for external contribution. An excess of salt (provided externally) means an increase in solutes that the kidneys of our children have to filter in order to eliminate it, working beyond their possibilities and increasing the risk of kidney damage with the possibility of becoming permanent.

- Like salt, sugar is another enemy in the baby's diet, since food contains enough carbohydrates, both simple (refined fruits and flours, for example) and complex (wholemeal flours, potatoes, some vegetables and legumes ...), so sugar as such is absolutely unnecessary, and its Indiscriminate contribution can start the path to obesity, with the problems that this entails: cardiovascular risk, cholesterol problems, diabetes ...

- Spices are widely used in much of the world, although in our country not all of them are so well known, much less are they considered suitable for children's diets. Garlic or onion are well known and accepted condiments that can be used in the baby's diet from 6 months.

Also, other spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano, ginger, turmeric, coriander, cumin or dill are aromatic herbs that can be used freely in baby meals, bringing them in contact with nuances of the basic flavors that salt and sugar cannot experience. Of course, as with new foods, the introduction of spices should be done every 3 or 4 days to observe possible adverse reactions.

- In other countries they also use, from early childhood, hot spices in children's diet. In our diet, perhaps the most used spicy spice is pepper, but in others, chili, hot paprika, cayenne pepper and wasabi are so frequent that, although it seems crazy, children are familiar with them since they complementary feeding is introduced.

Complementary feeding is a transition that allows the child's diet to evolve from breastfeeding to the diet of his parents or the adults with whom he lives, so, except for health reasons or lack of acceptance, there are no reasons why that the spices used in the family cannot be incorporated into their diet after 6 months.

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