Skip to main content

NewFolks may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Buying toddler-safe fish — where to start and what to know

We know many kinds of seafood, like tuna and salmon, contain crucial nutrients like vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. As parents, we want to give our kids the best and help them get off to a healthy start, so it’s understandable you want your child to eat fish, too.

But, if you were recently pregnant or breastfeeding, you know many doctors suggest limiting or avoiding mercury-dense fish like swordfish and tuna and raw fish like sushi. So, can toddlers eat salmon or tuna? Can they join you on a sushi night?

To help you navigate the waters of feeding your child fish, we spoke with Rima Kleiner, M.S., RD, a licensed dietitian and nutritionist who frequently writes about eating seafood on her blog, Dish on Fish.

toddler eating seafood
amsw photography/Pexels

Can toddlers eat fish?

Children can start eating fish like tuna and salmon when they begin solid foods, typically around 6 months. The nutrients, like protein, omega-3s, vitamin D, and calcium, are good for kids, too.

“Since toddlers are growing rapidly, adequate intake of these nutrients is essential for optimal brain, eye, bone, cell, and heart development,” Kleiner said. “Another overlooked but still important benefit of offering fish to young children is helping them to develop lifelong healthy food habits early on.”

But there are a few fish to avoid at first. Though you may want your little foodie-in-training to love sushi as much as you do, the FDA recommends not giving raw fish to young children.

“Stick with cooked-fish sushi in children 4 years and younger,” Kleiner said.

Opt for store-bought sushi with a “cooked-fish” label or order cooked fish at a restaurant.

“Rolling sushi makes a great age-appropriate sous chef job for your toddler [at home],” Kleiner said.

Mercury-dense fish, like swordfish and shark, are also no-no’s. You can introduce anything else to your little one starting at 6 months, and it’s definitely acceptable for a toddler. Kleiner said that it’s fine to serve it two to three times per week — a similar recommendation researchers give adults. Shellfish is an allergen, so introduce it and watch for any negative side effects, particularly if the allergy runs in the family.

How should you serve a toddler fish?

There are plenty of ways to give fish to your child. Kleiner suggests time-pressed parents give pouched or canned tuna and salmon or bite-sized pieces of cooked salmon.
You can add some interest by lightly breading fish sticks and serving with a dip like sweet honey mustard or mild barbecue sauce.

These Bamboo trays

make it easy to separate the dip from the fish and whatever sides, like veggies, are on the menu. They also have suctions to ensure the tray stays put and doesn’t become a Frisbee mid-meal.

“If one of their favorite dipping sauces comes with the fish plate, picky eaters might be more willing to try something new,” Kleiner said.

Or, swap beef and chicken for salmon or whitefish on taco night.

“Make it fun,” she said.

Parents sometimes lament about the amount of food they waste when their kiddo doesn’t finish it all. Since it’s best not to force food on a child, consider storing the leftovers in containers like

these from Rubbermaid

and repurpose them in comfort food favorites like mac and cheese or quesadillas instead.

These easy-to-grip spoons and forks

help your child get food to their mouths rather than the floor.

toddler eating fish

What happens if you’re dealing with a picky eater?

Fish can be an acquired taste for some kids, but research shows kids who are involved with shopping and meal prep are more likely to eat the food.

“Young children can open pouched or canned tuna and salmon, scoop it out … and mix it into … cooled dishes,” Kleiner said.


Your toddler can eat fish like tuna and salmon — these foods actually have a bevy of health benefits, including vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. There are a variety of ways you can serve fish to your toddler, including pouches, bite-sized and lightly breaded potions. Make things more fun and satisfy a picky eater by including fish in toddler-favorite foods like mac and cheese, quesadillas, and tacos.

Editors' Recommendations

BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on and In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
Your questions answered – everything you need to know about baby-led weaning
Guide to this trending solid introduction method
Baby eating solids in a highchair

Feeding your newborn is pretty straightforward. They only need human milk or formula for the first six months of their life to thrive. Once your baby is ready to start trying new foods, things can get a bit more complicated.
Parents shift to making or buying purees as they begin to introduce their little ones to solid foods. Cue caregivers pretending a spoon is an airplane and feeding their little child some version of oatmeal or pureed peas and sweet potatoes. These days, some parents are taking a different approach and introducing solids straight away. It’s known as baby-led weaning.
What is baby-led weaning? The method, developed by former public health nurse Gill Rapley, involves adults giving babies solid foods in their natural form and allowing them baby to self-feed. If a parent makes spaghetti, meatballs, and broccoli for dinner, the baby will eat it, too. Proponents say it respects a baby’s independence and food autonomy and may reduce picky eating.
It can also be a ton of food. Here’s what to know about baby-led weaning.

When do I start baby-led weaning?

Read more
Can toddlers drink almond milk or other plant-based drinks?
How safe are milk alternatives for your toddler?
Toddler girl drinking milk through a straw while lying on the grass

Milk is an important part of the diet of toddlers. Milk, along with other fortified dairy products or soy beverages, plays an integral role in helping toddlers grow strong bones and teeth. Generally speaking,  milk helps your toddler's body grow. Almost all cow's milk has been fortified with calcium and vitamin D, crucial nutrients for your growing child. But what's a parent to do if they are vegan or have children who are allergic to cow's milk? These parents often wonder if their toddlers can have almond milk or other plant-based drinks as an adequate substitute for cow's milk.

With the recent increase in the popularity of plant-based drinks and almond milk, parents have been confused about whether their toddlers should be drinking these beverages instead of cow's milk. If you've been curious whether toddlers can drink almond milk or other plant-based drinks, this should help clear up any confusion.
Why is milk so important?

Read more
Flying while pregnant? This is what you need to know
Know these guidelines about flying while you're with child
A family walking in an airport

Maybe you have to travel for work. Maybe you already had a vacation planned before finding out you were pregnant. However you got here, the reality is you're pregnant, and you have to get on a plane. Can you fly if you are pregnant, or is it on the list of no-no's, like soft cheese and deli meats? Whether you already booked that plane ticket or not, there are a few things about flying while pregnant to know. 
Traveling while pregnant
Let's break it down by trimester, so you know where you'll be when you take your trip.

First trimester travel
The first part of your pregnancy is usually OK to travel during. Most women don't start to show yet, feel pretty normal, and aren't physically restricted by a beach ball blocking everything they do. But there are two things to know if you fly in your first trimester.

Read more