Now that you know the guidelines for safe seafood, your next step is getting your toddler to eat it! “Start with fish that doesn’t have a strong smell,” suggests O’Leary. “Exposing your toddler to fish is like exposure to any other food—it needs to be in a form that’s friendly and manageable for a child.” Here are O’Leary’s fish tips for tots:
» Pick-up sticks. Fish sticks are made of cod (a safe seafood) and they look like French fries. Served with ketchup, what toddler could possibly resist?
» Build burgers. Create a hamburger out of canned salmon. Serve it with ketchup, mustard or a store-bought yogurt-based dip and your tot may not notice the difference!
» Shun sushi. Opt for teriyaki chicken or tempura at sushi restaurants. A toddler’s gastrointestinal tract isn’t as developed as an adult’s. Raw foods may contain microbes that an adult system can handle, but a toddler’s may not.
» Flake it. Fish is the perfect finger food because it’s easy to flake into bite-size pieces. Try wild salmon, cod and chunk light tuna to start.
» Opt for the old standby. When in doubt, go with a universal tot-pleaser: chunk light tuna sandwiches. They’re easy to pick up and chew—and they don’t smell!
Nancy Gottesman and her son Robby enjoy fish tacos every chance they get in Santa Monica, Calif.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN TODDLER MAGAZINE, SPRING ’08