Although fish and shellfish are among the top eight food allergens, they tend to affect adults more than children. Whether you have a history of allergies or not, there are also some fish that you want to avoid. This is because of the high mercury content.
You can give your child fish or shellfish any time after he or she starts eating solid foods. The American Academy of Pediatrics used to recommend that parents wait before feeding fish to their babies, but they have changed their position, saying: “Within a few months of starting solids, your baby’s daily diet should include a wide variety of foods, which may include… … Fish. “1
A review of homemade baby foods at home
A study published in the journal Nutrients even found that infants who started eating fish before the age of one had a lower risk of developing eczema later in life, which is considered an allergy-related condition.2
In many other countries where fish is a staple food, infants are fed fish before other meats. These infants eat fish more often than our staple foods of chicken, pork, and beef, and they eat it well.
When introducing fish, make sure it is fully cooked. Chop it up and mix it with the vegetables that have been introduced without problems. Always check fish and shellfish for bones and shell fragments.
Be sure to check the nutrition label for fish ingredients and allergy claims required by the Food and Drug Administration. Whether or not you have a family history of allergies, be sure to watch for signs of an allergic reaction (hives, difficulty breathing or asthma symptoms, swelling of the mouth or throat, vomiting or diarrhea, and loss of consciousness) the first time you eat fish or shellfish.3
If there is an allergic reaction, know how to respond and be prepared to call 911 immediately.
The FDA recommends that you avoid feeding shark, swordfish, mackerel, and squarehead to young children because of their high mercury content.4 Pregnant and nursing women should also avoid feeding these fish.
Give your baby fish that are low in mercury (after they have been eating solid foods for several months), including shrimp, canned light tuna (albacore tuna has higher mercury levels), salmon, cod, and catfish. If your fish was caught locally, the FDA recommends that you first contact your local government to see what is safe