Calling all Seafoodies, including those little ones!
When it comes to enjoying seafood, start early and eat often! Just like pregnant women and all other adults, children should consume 2-3 age-appropriate servings of seafood each week. And you can introduce fish—flaked into small, bite-sized pieces—to your little Seafoodies whenever they start eating solid foods. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics said there is no reason to delay the introduction of seafood, unless there is a family history of allergies to fish or shellfish. And that’s good news because seafood provides an abundance of nutrients that are beneficial throughout the life span, including during early childhood years. It is no secret that seafood has an abundance of nutritional benefits, but this is especially true during those early life stages.
Seafood provides vitamins and nutrients that are important for developing bones, brains, hearts, eyes and immune system. By serving your child seafood early and often, you can help your child create healthy eating habits that will last for life.
From suggested serving sizes to easy ways to incorporate seafood into their diet, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind.
When to Introduce Seafood
Seafood makes a great starter food! You can serve fish to children whenever they start eating table food, at around 6 months of age. Just be sure to flake or cut the fish into small pieces that your child can grab with fingers and swallow safely. Flaked cooked salmon and canned or pouched salmon and tuna make easy toddler foods. According to the AAP there is no reason to delay introducing seafood, however, talk to your pediatrician first if there is a family history of fish or shellfish allergies.
Children need a variety of nutrients to fuel their rapidly growing bodies and developing brains, especially protein, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Seafood provides these nutrients, plus others that can sometimes be lacking in children’s diets, such as antioxidants vitamin A and selenium. DYK that half a baby’s brain and more than half of baby’s eyes are comprised of DHA? Seafood is the premiere food source of DHA and EPA.
While the recommendation to eat seafood 2-3 times each week applies to both children and adults, the portion sizes vary according to age. According to the FDA, children younger than 6 years old should aim for 3-5 oz. per week, and children aged 6-8 years old should aim for about 4-6 oz. per week. Spread these servings out over the week.
Persistence is Key
Getting kids to try new foods can sometimes feel overwhelming for children and frustrating for adults. Two rules of thumb to keep in mind for introducing new foods is persistence and familiarity, even if your child refuses to try a new food or likes it one week and not the next, continue to offer it. It may take up to 10 times (or more!) of seeing a new food before a child is willing to try it. And taste buds change… you never know when your kid might be interested in a new food. As for familiarity, try introducing new foods by adding them to favorite dishes. If your child loves mac-n-cheese, try adding pouched tuna next time. If your loves Taco Tuesdays, offer grilled salmon or shrimp alongside other favorite taco toppings.
Below are a few fun and creative recipes to try out with your little—or even not so little—ones: