Your Toddler May Be Getting Too Much Salt

Most packaged foods for toddlers overloaded with sodium
pretzels in shape of smiley face

Giving pre-packaged meals and snacks to your little kids is convenient. But did you know that most of them contain too much sodium?

Advertising Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

The American Heart Association says that nearly 75 percent of the snacks and meals marketed to toddlers (ages 1 to 3 years) are high in sodium. And their concern is that too much sodium early can lead to health problems later.

What researchers found

American Heart Association researchers looked at more than 1,100 pre-packaged foods for babies and toddlers and found that of these almost 75 percent were high in sodium, defined as 210 mg or more per serving.

They found the foods with the most sodium content per serving were meals and savory snacks for toddlers. Toddler meals had significantly higher amounts of sodium than baby meals.

Advertising Policy

One meal had more than half daily requirement

Pediatric registered dietitian Andrea Rumschlag notes that some of the pre-packaged toddler meals contain more than 600 mg of sodium.

“Most adults really shouldn’t get more than 1500 mg a day,” says Rumschlag. “A toddler’s intake should be around 1,000 mg. And 600 mg is more than half of what they should have in an entire day, and they’re getting it in just one meal.”

A taste for salt develops early

Researchers worry about the long-term health risks of introducing high levels of sodium in a child’s diet because high blood pressure, as well as a preference for salty foods, can develop early in life.

Advertising Policy

Rumschlag agrees.

“Taste buds are sensitive when you’re younger. You’re going to develop the taste that you’re going to have for a while,” she says. “If you get accustomed to all these salty foods you’re not going to realize that non-salty food is really the way something is supposed to taste. And you’ll be adding salt to foods that don’t need it for the flavor.”

Rumschlag recommends parents check nutrition labels on all pre-packaged meals or snacks for their sodium content.

Advertising Policy
Advertising Policy