Introducing Fish to Your Baby
What is the age for introducing Fish to your Baby and what type of fish should be introduced?
Is Fish an Allergenic food?
Fish, specifically shellfish and “bony” fish, are known allergens for an infant. It is often recommended to introduce fish only after a baby has reached one year of age. Many sources suggest waiting until after 3 years old. Still, other sources say that introducing fish to a baby at 9-10 months old is perfectly safe. Shellfish should not be introduced to a child who may be allergy prone until around three years old or even older. Shellfish such as lobster, oysters etc. can induce deadly allergic reactions.
How Nutritious is Fish and What about the Omega 3’s?
Fish are highly nutritional and eating fish two times a week is recommended for both adults and children. Fish contain protein, are low in “bad” fats and contain Essential Fatty Acid (EFA’s) – Omega-3 fatty acids. The Omega 3 fatty acids that fish have are DHA and EPA. These EFA’s are not found in any other protein source, not even in meat or plants. EFA’s found in fish and fish oil products help fight off both physical and mental diseases. It has been suggested and some studies show that fish oil (or other foods that contain Omega 3’s) may even help alleviate ADHD or eczema. Getting these EFA’s from fish itself is better than consuming fish oil supplements. However, if you are not a fan of fish, fish oil is the next best source available. Adding fish oil to your baby’s diet is a possibility and should be thoroughly discussed with your pediatrician!
Is there a risk of Mercury Poisoning for my Baby if I introduce fish?
Another reason it is suggested to wait to introduce fish to an infant is due to the levels of mercury that fish may contain. Mercury levels in fish have been and will remain a large health concern for women who are considering getting pregnant, who are currently pregnant, who are breastfeeding and also for infants and young children. It is very important that those falling into the above groups do not consume fish with high levels of mercury!! It has been found that fish species such as swordfish, king mackerel, shark and tilefish contain the highest amounts of mercury. Mercury can do severe damage to developing nervous systems should consumption of mercury tainted fish be commonplace. Salmon, contrary to popular belief, has lower levels of mercury than one typically thinks as does tuna. Cold water fish have lower levels of mercury and also contain higher levels of Omega 3’s.
What Type of Fish are the best to introduce to baby?
When first introducing fish, it is important to select one of the “white flesh” fish types. Be sure to discuss introducing fish, especially shellfish, with your pediatrician prior to serving it! Flounder, Haddock, Cod, and Sole are the white flesh fish and are considered some of the safest to introduce. They are the most easily digestible and lowest on the allergen list and as such, are best to use when first introducing baby to fish.
It is VERY important that you ensure the fish is entirely de-boned!! Be mindful of the fact that some fish contain tiny bones so take great care when de-boning. You may poach, bake or steam the fish and then puree as you would any other meat. Some fish is so tender when cooked that you may be able to simply fork mash it. Don’t be afraid to blend it with veggies or even fruits! Remember, your baby is not aware that flounder mixed with pears is really not a nice mix so mix up fish combinations that you think your baby may enjoy!
Fish Dinner Recipe:
* 1 filet of any fish
* 1/8 cup 2% or whole milk
* 1 tablespoon melted butter
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 cup mashed peas
* 1/8 cup mashed carrots
* 1/8 cup mashed potatoes
De-bone and Cook fish by steaming, poaching or baking. Shred the cooked fish to ensure all the bones are removed. Put all ingredients in blender and blend or dice and toss ingredients together and serve as a finger food meal! Serve warm. (add noodles or rice to make for a really filling and nutritious meal – may be blended with these additions!) Enjoy!
For more information on mercury levels in fish please visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca