Q: When can my baby start eating fish and shellfish?
A: For most babies, doctors recommend waiting until 9 months to introduce fish (like sole or salmon) and 12 months before trying shellfish (like shrimp, clams, and lobster). That's because these, particularly shellfish, are among the top foods that cause allergies -- and waiting until your baby's immune system is more developed can reduce his risk of a reaction.
Although this is still a pretty controversial topic, many doctors recommend waiting even longer -- up to 3 years -- to start your baby on shellfish if severe allergies run in your family, if your baby has already shown signs of being allergic to other foods, or has experienced symptoms of seasonal allergies, eczema, or asthma. If you're concerned, talk to your pediatrician about what's right for your child.
Most doctors recommend making sure your baby is used to eating fruits, veggies, poultry, and meat before seafood. Avoid feeding your child fish with high mercury levels (swordfish, shark, king mackerel, or tilefish), and limit the amount of canned tuna to 3 to 6 ounces of chunk light tuna (which is lower in mercury than other kinds) per week. You should also hold off on sushi until your child is older (your pediatrician will have her own rules on this, but usually at least a year) since many of the bacteria that can turn up in raw fish may make an adult only mildly ill, but can have more serious side effects for a young child.
Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.