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Babies and children under 11 should have less salt than adults.

Babies under a year old should have less than 1g of salt a day. If a baby is breastfed, they will get the right amount of minerals, including sodium and chloride, from breast milk. Formula milk contains a similar amount to breast milk.

Don't add salt to your baby’s milk or food, and don't use stock cubes or gravy as they're often high in salt and their kidneys can’t cope with it. Remember this when you’re cooking for the family if you plan to give the same food to your baby.

Avoid giving your baby processed foods such as ready meals as these are often high in salt. However, food manufactured specifically for babies should meet the recommended levels. If in doubt, always check the label

The daily recommended maximum amount of salt children should eat depends on age:

  • 1 to 3 years – 2g salt a day (0.8g sodium)
  • 4 to 6 years – 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium)
  • 7 to 10 years – 5g salt a day (2g sodium)
  • 11 years and over – 6g salt a day (2.4g sodium)

Making sure your child doesn’t eat too much salt means you’re also helping to ensure that they don’t develop a taste for salty food, which makes them less likely to eat too much salt as an adult.

Foods that contain salt

Some foods are almost always high in salt because of the way they are made, for example bacon, cheese and sausages.

Other foods, such as bread and breakfast cereals, can contribute a lot of salt to our diet. But that’s not because these foods are high in salt – it’s because we eat a lot of them. Check the food label to help you choose ones with less salt.

High-salt foods

The following foods are almost always high in salt. To cut down on salt, eat them less often or have smaller amounts:

  • anchovies
  • bacon
  • cheese
  • gravy granules
  • ham
  • olives
  • pickles
  • prawns
  • salami
  • salted and dry-roasted nuts
  • salt fish
  • smoked meat and fish
  • soy sauce
  • stock cubes
  • yeast extract 

Foods that can be high in salt

In the following foods, the salt content can vary widely between different brands or varieties. That means you can cut down on salt by comparing brands and choosing the one that is lower in salt. Nutrition labels can help you do this.

These foods include:

  • bread & bread products such as crumpets, bagels and ciabatta
  • pasta sauces
  • crisps
  • pizza
  • ready meals
  • soup
  • sandwiches
  • sausages
  • tomato ketchup, mayonnaise and other sauces
  • breakfast cereals