Safe fish for babies: How to introduce your baby to seafood?
Fish can be a great source of Omega-3 for babies but can also contain harmful mercury. Here are the best safe fish for babies to include in your child’s diet and how to prepare it!
Fish is a superfood since it has high-quality proteins, vitamins, and minerals and is rich in omega-3. These nutrients are essential for developing the brain, nervous system and vision, making it perfect for growing babies. Doctors recommend waiting until your baby is 8 to 9 months old before introducing fish in their diet. When it comes to shrimp, you should wait until your child is at least a year old. However, not all types of fish are safe for your baby to consume. Here are safe fish for babies to start feeding your little one and healthy ways to include them in your baby’s Indian food chart.
How to choose safe fish for babies
Mercury released from burning fuels normally settles into the oceans and lakes. Bacteria change the mercury into a compound called methylmercury. This is an even more dangerous form and can build up in fish who are exposed to it. Fish that eat other fish and live longer will accumulate more mercury and must be avoided for babies. This is why shark, seer fish, bluefin tuna and swordfish are considered very harmful for babies and young children.
The top 6 safe fish for babies
Safe fish for babies include those that have very low exposure to mercury. A good rule of thumb when buying fish for your baby is to choose those that are small in size and are wild-caught. Small fish and wild-caught fish tend to accumulate less mercury and are thus, healthier for your baby. These six fish are commonly found in Indian markets and can provide numerous health benefits for your baby with none of the toxic hazards.
Salmon is classified as a fish with one of the lowest mercury levels, making it one of the safest fishes for babies and pregnant mothers. This fish is also very high in omega-3 fatty acids, an essential nutrient for your child’s healthy brain development. When introducing fish to your baby, start with some flakes of salmon mixed in with their other usual vegetables. This will help them get accustomed to the taste of it.
Also read our blog on Everything Parents Should Know About Preventing Baby Food Poisoning.
This fish is more widely available in markets in India, compared to salmon and is easily recognizable by its whisker-like barbels. Low in mercury and rich in healthy nutrients, it is a safe fish for babies.
Also known as ‘andaware machchli’ in Hindi and ‘kanambu’ in Malayalam, you can easily recognize the fish from its triangular mouth. It is particularly rich in vitamin-A, proteins, calcium, and minerals like zinc and iron.
These are small fish and, therefore, are very low in mercury. These fish are very bony, however, so make sure you carefully remove all the bones before feeding it to your baby.
Tilapia is a freshwater fish that has very low exposure to mercury. This is a great fish to start feeding your baby as it has a neutral taste. It is also a good source of antioxidants and is a calcium-rich food for your baby.
Unlike larger fish, sardines are almost free of any contaminants especially mercury. They also pack in one of the highest concentrations of brain-building omega-3s, which is even higher than that of salmon.
Also read our blog on 6 Incredible Benefits of Chamomile Tea for Babies.
Healthy ways to prepare fish for babies
Preparing food safely for your baby is essential when introducing new foods into their diet. When feeding fish to your baby, start with very tiny portions to make sure your baby has no allergic reaction to it. If you’re wondering how to cook fish for your baby, you can use the following tips:
Steaming is a great way to preserve all the nutrients in fish. You also won’t have to use unhealthy oils to prepare it. You can blend steamed salmon flakes (or any other type of fish) into mashed potato. Mix it with a little butter or ghee to add healthy fats and flavour. You can give one or two servings of this dish to your baby in a week.
Poaching is a cooking method that locks in all the nutrients and makes fish easy for your baby to digest. To poach fish, add adequate water to a pan along with a few ingredients like onions, lemongrass or dill. Wash the fish filet well and pat it dry. Once the water starts simmering, add the fish to it and poach until the flesh turns completely white. Switch off the fire and let it sit for at least 5 minutes. Serve it to your baby either pureed or flaked.
These healthy fish will provide the perfect combination of taste and nutrition for your baby. For more information on your child’s nutrition, download the mfine app and book an instant consultation with your city’s top pediatricians!