Home > Kids > Childhood Safety > Food Safety > Should Infants Eat Fish?
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Should Infants Eat Fish?

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Shari Nethersole, M.D.

Q: Our pediatrician said our one-year-old shouldn't eat fish. Is this true?

A: It is not true that a one-year-old can't have fish; however there may be reasons why you might not want to give certain types of fish to a one-year-old.

What your pediatrician may have been referring to is the potential problem of shellfish. Shellfish are a group of fish that are known to be more likely to cause allergic reactions than other foods. Shrimp, lobster, and crab fall into this category. If there is a strong history of allergies in a family, it may be reasonable to avoid shellfish for a while in the child.

The other concern that comes into play with fish is that certain types of fish have been found to have high mercury levels. When the fish is eaten, the mercury is absorbed into the body and adds to the level of mercury for that person. While in adults the small amounts of mercury are likely of little consequence, in children there is concern that these small amounts accumulate over time and can then have a more toxic effect on brain development.

The third thing to consider when giving a young child fish is the bones. Even when a parent attempts to remove all the bones, very often small ones are left, and a young child may have difficulty. He can choke on the bones or have a small piece of bone get caught in the back of the throat.

As you can see, there are a number of factors to consider if you want to give your child fish. It makes sense to avoid bony fish that has higher mercury levels, as well as shellfish. Fish is a wonderful source of protein, however, and provides lots of nutrients and fats that the body does need. A basic whitefish that doesn't have bones and is known not to be significantly contaminated with mercury would be a reasonable choice.

More on: Expert Advice

Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Tips for Reading Aloud to Babies & Toddlers
The AAP advises reading aloud to babies and toddlers because it boosts brain power and has many other benefits. Get some tips for making the most of story time with your tot!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

How to Survive Summer Boredom
When the kids are home all day, every day, summer boredom strikes hard and fast. Learn the best summer boredom busters and tips for surviving until September.

12 Birthday Party Favors that Won't Get Thrown Away
The next time you're planning a birthday, forgo the penny candy and cheap toys. Send your guests home with one of these fun and creative party favor ideas!