It is especially important during the first three years to help little ones eat well and encourage them to enjoy a variety of foods, as the foods they enjoy now will help shape their food preferences and eating patterns in the future. Research has shown that nutrition in the first 2 years can have an impact on a child’s risk of developing diseases later in life.
Fish provides an important source of nutrients including Proteins, Iron and Omega-3 fatty acids.
When should I offer my child fish?
UK guidelines recommend that fish can be offered to babies from 6 months of age.
However, there are restrictions on how much and what fish should be offered, mainly when it comes to oily and larger fish.
How much fish is recommended?
When offering fish to your child it’s a good idea to stick with the current recommendations of 2 portions of fish a week one of which is oily. The British Dietetic Association offers these recommendations when it comes to portion sizes of OILY FISH for different age groups
18 months-3 years = ¼- ¾ small fillet or 1-3 tablespoons
4-6 years= ½ 1 small fillet or 2-4 tablespoons
7-11 years= 1-1 ½ small fillet or 3-5 tablespoons
12 years to adult 140g (5oz) fresh fish
Guidance: ¼ – 1 small fillet of oily or white fish or around 40g
½-1 tablespoon of tinned fish or around 40g
Which fish are restricted and Why?
Shark/Swordfish/Marlin – have high mercury value, which can affect the development of babies’ nervous system.
Raw Shellfish (due to the risk of food poisoning) but cooked shellfish is ok to offer to babies and young children in small amounts.
White Fish – as a whole white fish is not restricted, but there are a few options that should not be eaten too often. These include Sea Bream, Sea Bass, Turbot, Halibut and Rock Salmon, as they are likely to contain larger levels of pollutants than other white fish.
What if I don’t like fish or don’t want to offer it to my child?
This is very common in a world where plant-based diets are popular. It’s not really a problem if you don’t offer fish to your children as long as they are having a well-balanced diet AND you’re offering plant-based sources of omega-3 including:
– Ground or chopped walnuts
– Rapeseed oil
– Milled Linseed or Flaxseed
– Soya and Soya products
– Green leafy vegetables
Phoebe Wharton ANutr
The Harrison Clinic