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Sodium and Fluid Restriction for Children with Kidney Failure

Sodium and Fluid Restriction for Children with Kidney Failure

A low-sodium diet or salt restriction may be used to help prevent or reduce fluid retention in your child's body. The amount of sodium or salt allowed in your child's diet depends on your child's health condition. Your child's healthcare provider or dietitian will figure out the amount of sodium allowed in your child's diet. It is often expressed in milligrams (mg) per day. Some common sodium restrictions include 2,000, 3,000, or 4,000 mg per day. With most sodium-restricted diets, high-sodium foods are limited. And salt is not allowed when making food or at the table.

Foods high in sodium

  • Canned foods (vegetables, meats, pasta meals)

  • Processed foods (meats, such as bologna, pepperoni, salami, hot dogs, sausage)

  • Cheese

  • Dried pasta and rice mixes

  • Soups (canned and dried)

  • Snack foods (chips, popcorn, pretzels, cheese puffs, salted nuts)

  • Dips, sauces, and salad dressings

Foods low in sodium

  • Plain breads, cereals, rice, and pasta

  • Vegetables and fruits (fresh or frozen)

  • Meats (fresh cuts, not processed meats)

  • Milk and yogurt (these tend to be moderate in sodium)

  • Drinks, such as juices, tea, fruit drink or fruit punch, soda, and sports drinks have sodium so these may need to be limited

Low-sodium seasonings

The following low-sodium seasonings may be used more freely than those that are high in sodium:



Bay leaf

Chili powder




Curry powder


Dry mustard

Extracts (vanilla)

Garlic (fresh)

Garlic powder


Horseradish sauce

Lemon juice

Lime juice




Onion (fresh)

Onion powder










The following seasonings are high in sodium, but they can be used in limited amounts.

Limit to 1 tablespoon per meal:

  • Barbecue sauce

  • Cocktail sauce

  • Ketchup

  • Mustard

  • Hot sauce

  • Low-calorie salad dressing

  • Steak sauce

How to reduce your child's salt intake

The following recommendations may help to reduce the amount of salt in your child's diet:

  • Don't use salt when cooking or at the table.

  • Cook with herbs and spices. Or if your child's healthcare provider allows it, use salt substitutes.

  • Seasonings with the word salt in the name, such as garlic salt, are high in sodium. When seasoning foods use fresh garlic or garlic powder. Use onion powder instead of onion salt. And try celery seed rather than celery salt.

  • Eat homemade meals using fresh ingredients. Don't eat canned, frozen, or packaged meals. When eating out, ask for dressings and sauces on the side. Ask the chef to hold the salt in food preparation.

Type of food


Stay away from these foods

Milk, yogurt, cheese


  • Whole, 2%, or skim milk

  • Cottage cheese, regular hard cheeses, tofu

  • Puddings, custards, ice cream


  • Processed cheese, cheese spreads

Meat, fish, poultry


  • Fresh or frozen meats, poultry, fish

  • Low sodium canned tuna or salmon

  • Dried beans and peas

  • Soybean or vegetable protein

  • Peanut butter


  • Salted or canned meats, fish (sardines, herring, anchovies), or poultry

  • Lunch meats (bologna, ham, corned beef)

  • Cured meats (ham, bacon, sausage)

  • Hot dogs, dried beef, jerky

  • Commercially frozen entrees

  • Kosher-prepared meats



  • Fresh, frozen, or canned fruits, fruit juices


  • None



  • Fresh, frozen, or low-sodium canned vegetables


  • Sauerkraut, salted or pickled vegetables

  • Vegetables cooked with salted meats

  • Regular vegetable juices

Starches, breads, cereals


  • Potatoes, macaroni, spaghetti, noodles, rice

  • Unsalted potato chips, low-sodium pretzels, unsalted crackers, unsalted popcorn, and nuts

  • Whole-grain and enriched breads

  • Pancakes, muffins, French toast, waffles, biscuits, cookies, cakes

  • Whole-grain and enriched cooked or commercially prepared dry cereals


  • Potato chips, salted snack foods, or pretzels

  • Commercially prepared rice and noodle mixes

  • Salted breads, rolls, and crackers

  • Salted popcorn and nuts



  • Chocolate, cocoa, horseradish, herbs and spices, such as onion powder, fresh garlic, garlic powder, celery seed

  • Flavorings, such as vinegar, lemon juice, Tabasco

  • Low-sodium condiments and seasonings

  • Ketchup, chili sauce, barbecue sauce, mustard, gravy (limit to 1 tablespoon per day)

  • Low-sodium canned soups, homemade soups


  • Commercially prepared meat sauces

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

  • Onion salt, garlic salt, celery salt, seasoned salt

  • Olives, pickles

  • Relish, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce

  • Dehydrated soup or bouillon, canned soups



  • Butter, margarine, lard, shortening, vegetable oil, mayonnaise

  • Salad dressing (limit to 1 tablespoon per day)


  • Salt pork, bacon fat, fat back

  • More than 1 tablespoon salad dressing per day

Sample plan for 3,000 mg sodium restriction




Orange juice (1/2 cup)

Dry cereal (1/2 cup)

Toast (1 slice)

Margarine (1 tsp)

Jelly (1 tbsp)

Low-fat milk (1 cup)

Beef patty (3 oz)

Hamburger bun (1)

Mustard (1 tbsp)

Ketchup (1 tbsp)

Sliced tomato and lettuce

Low-fat milk (1 cup)

Baked, breaded chicken strips, homemade (3 oz)

Oven-baked French fries, homemade (1/2 cup)

Green beans (1/2 cup)

Dinner roll (1)

Margarine (1 tsp)

Apple juice (1 cup)

Frozen yogurt (1/2 cup)

Morning snack

Afternoon snack




Cereal fruit bar

Oatmeal cookies (2)




Definitions for sodium claims on food labels

The food label reads

What this means


Less than 5 mg sodium per serving


Meets requirements for sodium-free

Low sodium

140 mg sodium or less per serving

Very low sodium

35 mg sodium or less per serving

Reduced sodium

At least 25% less sodium compared with the same product without reduced sodium

Light in sodium

50% less sodium per serving compared with foods with more than 40 calories per serving or more than 3 gm of fat per serving

Unsalted, no added salt, or without added salt


  • No salt is added during processing

  • The product it resembles and substitutes for is normally processed with salt

Reviewed Date: 09-01-2023

Sodium and Fluid Restriction for Children with Kidney Failure

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.