Whether or not to feed fish to your baby has been widely debated for years, so many moms and dads wonder if salmon is OK. Years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics used to state that fish was not safe until after a child’s second birthday. They have since changed the age recommendation from two years to six months.
Fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for a child’s brain and eye development. It is also low in saturated fat and high in protein, vitamin D and other important nutrients.
Salmon is a fresh water fish that is considered healthy due to its high protein, high vitamin D and high omega-3 fatty acid content. A salmon’s flesh is typically orange or red in color. It is most popular served smoked, but canned salmon is also gaining popularity. Salmon has many health benefits, including preventing coronary artery disease.
Can I Give My Baby Salmon? Answer: Check for Allergies
The right time to introduce salmon to a child’s diet depends on your family’s history of food allergies. Fish is one of the the biggest of allergy offenders, and there are certain ages that it’s safer for children to consume.
If there is not a history of food allergies in your family, salmon can be introduced to your child around the six-month mark. If allergies do run in your family, it is best to wait until your child is three before introducing salmon.
Be advised that even though it contains the lowest amount of all fish, salmon does contain methylmercury, a metal believed to be harmful to a child’s developing brain and nervous system when consumed in high doses. It is best to limit your child’s intake to no more than twice a week.
When feeding salmon to your baby, always make sure it is thoroughly cooked to avoid bacteria and viruses that can thrive in undercooked meat and fish. Also be sure that the salmon is properly de-boned and minced or pureed so there is no choking hazard. Make sure to only offer a small amount, and do not introduce the salmon with another type of fish.
After the initial introduction, watch for signs of a food allergy. It is recommended to hold off for a minimum of 3 days before introducing another “new” food to your child. Signs of an allergic reaction include the tongue, lips and face has swelled, there is a rash found on the skin; your child is wheezing; there is cramping in the abdomen, they are vomiting, or there is diarrhea. Allergy symptoms vary from child to child and can be moderate to severe. If you notice mild symptoms, call your child’s doctor right away.
Some of these signs are considered an emergency and you should call 911 immediately. These include breathing troubles, and a swelled face and lips. Also if diarrhea or vomiting becomes severe.
Adding it Regularly
If you have given your child salmon and there has not been any allergic reaction, make it a normal part of their diet. The FDA/EDP advisory says it is okay to serve your child two child-size servings of fish per week. A child-size serving is 1 ounce of fish for one and two year olds, 1.5 ounces for children ages three to six; and 2 ounces for a child over six.
Consuming too much fish that contains mercury can result in mercury poisoning. Also known as hydrargyria or mercurialism, mercury poisoning is a disease caused by exposure to mercury, which can produce toxic effects. Fish high in mercury include tilefish, swordfish, shark and mackeral. Babies should not consume any of these fish, as their mercury levels are too high for a child and can result in mercury poisoning. Symptoms of mercury poisoning include sensory impairment (vision, hearing and speech), disturbed sensation and lack of coordination.
Seafood Now and Later
A child’s food preferences are largely developed by the time the child celebrates their fifth birthday. In order for your child to continue eating salmon at an older age, parents are urged to help their kids develop a taste for seafood at an early age.
Salmon is a very healthy food to add to your child’s diet. During the initial introduction, watch for signs of allergy, as fish is one of the top eight allergy-causing foods. If your child does not have any reactions, make salmon a regular part of his or her diet. If you have any questions about adding salmon to your child’s diet, it is recommended to consult your child’s physician.