A roast dinner is as British as British food gets. We love it! Although most components of a roast dinner are safe and tasty for baby led weaning, there’s one key part of a Sunday roast dinner that should be avoided when feeding your baby: gravy.
So if you were wondering, can babies have gravy?, the answer is that it’s actually a big no-no when it comes to babies and young children.
The official advice regarding babies eating gravy.
Parents serving dinner to their children are likely to wonder, “can babies have gravy?”, at some point, especially as roast dinners traditionally play such a huge role in our family lives. According to the NHS, you should avoid giving your baby gravy, especially if it is made from gravy granules or is shop bought.
This article is going to delve into why gravy isn’t recommended for babies in more depth and also provide ideas and inspiration for alternative gravy recipes. Here’s what we’re covering in this blog post:
- Why is gravy bad for babies?
- What can I give my baby instead of gravy?
- Alternative gravy recipes for babies.
- Gravy-free dinners for babies.
Let’s take a look at each point in turn.
Why is gravy bad for babies?
As we covered in our Baby Led Weaning Foods To Avoid At Christmas blog post, gravy should be avoided during baby led weaning as it’s extremely high in salt. Too much salt in your baby’s diet can be extremely harmful, resulting in kidney damage and an increase in blood pressure.
If salt is consumed in excess and starts to raise the blood pressure of your baby, they will become more susceptible to heart disease and strokes when they’re older. It’s recommended that babies under 12 months should have less than 1g of salt per day.
Salty foods should be avoided as baby’s kidneys are developed enough to process it. You may be thinking, “it can’t be that bad” but be warned; in rare cases, such as a 3 month old baby in 1999, too much salt in a child’s diet can lead to death.
What can I give my baby instead of gravy?
We know that the answer to ‘can babies have gravy?’ is a no, so you may be wondering what can you give your baby instead? Although there are some alternative recipes that I will talk you through later, the easiest way to substitute gravy on your baby’s meal is to add a splash of water to existing foods on your baby’s plate to make it slightly runnier.
For example, if you’re worried about the food you’re serving your baby being too dry, you could puree or mash up some vegetables and add some additional water to create a runnier sauce to replace the gravy. This creates a healthy sauce that babies can enjoy without parents having to worry about the salt intake.
If your main concern is that the food is too bland, instead of adding gravy to your baby’s meal, you could add flavours using spices and herbs.
Alternative gravy recipes for babies.
Some parents may ask can babies have gravy if it’s homemade? Unfortunately, even most homemade gravies still contain too much salt for it to be considered safe for babies. With that being said, there are some alternative ‘gravy’ recipes that you can make at home if you still want to provide a gravy-like substance.
The first method entails you taking some of your baby’s favourite vegetable puree and combining it with some of the meat juices from the cooking pan. In order to adjust the thickness, simply use more vegetable puree, or add a splash of water.
Alternatively, combine a couple of tablespoons of cornflour to some homemade stock and pour into a small pan, heating gently and continuously stirring until the mixture thickens.
Gravy-free dinner ideas for babies.
Although a traditional roast dinner does play a role in British culture, there are always alternative dinner ideas that do not require gravy. Switching your meals up and opting to choose something different on a Sunday could be the perfect way to not only cut out gravy consumption, but also to introduce your baby to new flavours and textures. The following types of meals can be adapted to include minimall sodium levels, making them idea dinners for all the family:
- Chilli Con Carne
- Mild Curry
- Pasta and homemade sauce
For more inspiration, take a look at our 20 Baby Led Weaning Dinner Ideas blog post which includes delicious meals such as quesadillas, risotto, and korma.
Other salty foods you should avoid giving your baby.
Gravy isn’t the only food that contains too much salt for it to be considered safe for babies. In addition to avoiding gravy, convenience foods such as ready meals and takeaways should not be offered to babies and young children. Some meats, such as bacon and sausages contain too much salt, as well as fat, and therefore parents should ensure they check labels carefully before offering these foods to their babies. Finally, snacks such as crisps, chips, and adult’s crackers also contain high salt levels and should be avoided.
Can Babies Have Gravy?
In this article we have ascertained that the answer to ‘can babies have gravy?’ is a resounding no. Gravy contains far too much salt and a baby’s underdeveloped kidneys simply cannot process this, thus resulting in potential health issues such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Remember that children under 12 months should only be ingesting around 1g of salt per day and this salt will also be coming from breast milk and formula milk, as well as other sources throughout their day.