Recommendations about the age when it is safe to introduce fish into a baby’s diet vary considerably. Many sources suggest waiting until after a child is 3 years old – though this mainly applies in the case of shellfish and crustaceans.Some authorities say that it is safe to introduce fish when baby is 9 or 10 months of age. Yet other sources even suggest that 6 to 7 months old is OK.
Among recent studies, a 2008 report indicated that waiting to introduce fish or other potentially allergenic foods to your baby may not prevent any atopic diseases, such as eczema:
“Although solid foods should not be introduced before 4 to 6 months of age, there is no current convincing evidence that delaying their introduction beyond this period has a significant protective effect on the development of atopic disease regardless of whether infants are fed cow milk protein formula or human milk. This includes delaying the introduction of foods that are considered to be highly allergic, such as fish, eggs, and foods containing peanut protein.”
Medscape Paediatrics magazine recently featured an interview with an expert on the subject – a Dr. Greer – who stated:
“Now we can tell mothers: If you have exclusively breastfed for 4 months and your child is not at risk for allergy, you can introduce any food at 6 or 8 months or whatever.”
It’s all rather confusing, but whichever guidelines you do decide to follow, discuss the introduction of potentially allergenic foods with your own baby’s doctor or paediatrician first!
The goodness of fish for your baby…
- Amino acids: The human body cannot produce amino acids, so must get them from foods.
- Fish contains all 9 amino acids, making it one of the few sources of complete protein.
- Omega 3s: Fish is an excellent source of pure Omega 3s. These may even help your baby if he or she suffers from eczema or other skin ailments.
Buy fish that is as fresh as possible:
- Dull flesh usually means that fish is not really fresh.
- The flesh of white fish should look firm and shiny, with possibly a little tan or pinkish colouring on the inner side of the fillet – these are the natural colours of the insides of the fish.
- The fish should smell fresh – not over ‘fishy’ or ammonia-like.
- The skin of fresh whole fish should not be slimy, and the gills should be bright red.
- Ask the fishmonger to press on the fish – if the flesh doesn’t spring back when released, it isn’t fresh.
When you first introduce fish to your baby, choose white varieties as these have a milder, less ‘fishy’ taste. And ALWAYS CHECK VERY CAREFULLY to make sure there are no bones left in any fish that you are about to give to your baby.
The best ways of cooking fish for your baby are by poaching, grilling (broiling) or baking:
- Baking will help retain more nutrients.
- Poaching (possibly in milk) is a versatile way of cooking fish to create dishes that are flavourful and exciting. Use the poaching liquid to make a white sauce – or a mild cheese sauce if your baby is enjoying cheese in his or her diet – and add in the fish.
This information presented to you acts as a guide which contains researched information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.
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