Are you confused about when and how to introduce fish in your baby’s diet? Don’t worry 🙂 I am here to help you out.
Today we will discuss about introducing fish to your baby and the frequently asked questions about starting fish for babies.
You must have noticed that almost all baby food or supplementary drinks have DHA included in them. DHA is an Omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for your baby’s development.
With good amount of omega-3’s as the standout nutrient fish is one natural food source that you can include in your baby’s diet to ensure that he gets his share of DHA and other essential omega-3’s.
But when to introduce fish and what all to be taken care of while including fish in your baby’s diet? Read on to understand more.
Benefits of including fish in your baby’s diet:
The benefits of fish in your baby’s diet are plenty. They are
- Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are essential for brain development
- Rich in fat soluble Vitamins – Oily fishes like sardine contain between 10-25% fat. Due to high fat content they are also rich in fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A and D and also vitamin E and K.
- Good source of protein
- Improves eye development
- Omega-3 fatty acids also aid in a child’s cognitive development
- Improves the health of your heart
When can my baby start eating fish?
Fish is like any other solid food and can be introduced to your baby after he turns 6 months of age. But keep in mind that fish is a food item that can trigger allergic reactions.
If your baby is comfortable eating cereals and other traditional food items that you start giving by 6th month, and if these are not showing any allergic reaction then you can start including fish too.
To avoid the risk of allergy, it would be better to wait till your baby is 8 month old and then introduce fish in her diet.
If your baby is allergic to any food items or your family has a history of food allergies, please consult your doctor before you include fish in your baby’s diet.
Beware of the mercury content in fish:
While fish is an excellent source of essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, consumption of fish also pauses the risk of mercury poisoning.
Fish and shellfish contain methyl mercury or other harmful chemicals at sufficiently high levels in their body and can harm us.
Species of fish that have a long life span or those fish that tops the food chain are more likely to contain higher concentrations of mercury than others. For example: shark, king mackerel and tilefish. Swordfish, and northern pike are also proved to have mercury content in them.
Cold-water fish are considered to have lower levels of mercury and they also contain higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids. So to avoid mercury poisoning avoid consuming fish high in mercury content and also limit the consumption of fish.
What type of fish should I offer to my baby for the first time?
White flesh fish are easily digestible and are less likely to cause allergens. So offer these types of fish to begin with.
Pomfret, trout, cod or sole are good options. Salmon, Pollock and Catfish are also low in mercury content.
Light tuna is a good source of omega-3s, but its consumption should be limited because of the high mercury content it may contain.
Shellfish should be avoided till your baby turns 3.
Once you have introduced fish in your baby’s diet, you can serve him or her fish two times per week. Around 6 ounce of fish per week is all that is required. That will be enough to meet her fatty-acid needs.
How to introduce fish to your baby the right way?
Introduce only one type of fish at a time. If your baby is ok with it then go for the next variety.
To start with you can steam cook fish, shallow fry or bake it, then debone and puree it. Add this puree to your baby’s diet.
Another way to give fish is to fry it with a pinch of turmeric powder as marinate, debone and give it to your baby.
For toddlers and above you can make fish fry or fish curry with spices or marinate you commonly use.
Precautions to be taken while you introduce fish to your baby:
- Avoid fish high in mercury content
- No raw fish recipes like sushi for kids less than 5 years of age
- Clean fish well before you cook
- Use only fresh fish as far as you can
- Debone the fish well before you give it to your kids
- As in case of any solid food follow the 4 or 7 day rule while introducing fish in your baby’s diet
- Don’t offer fish if your baby is allergic to it
- If your baby or you are having asthma, hay fever or food allergy consult your pediatrician before you include fish in your baby’s diet
- At the first notice of allergic symptoms itself, consult your pediatrician
- No shell fish till your baby is 3 years old
To conclude I would say that fish is an excellent source of proteins, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals and can help in your baby’s development if consumed in moderate amounts.
You can also read about 8 egg recipes for babies.
Hope you like this article on why, when and how to introduce fish to your baby.
Have you started fish in your baby’s diet? When did you start fish for your baby? Which fish did you start with? Which is your little one’s favorite fish? Share with me in comments.