Salmon: An Essential for Your Baby’s Diet

When starting the baby food journey, salmon is not a common flavor mentioned amongst the fruits, veggies and proteins available. However, salmon is an excellent option to add to the menu due to it being an excellent source of protein (all 9 essential amino acids), healthy fats including omega-3 fatty acids, and several essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin D. 

According to the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a nutrient-dense, diverse diet from age 6 through 23 months of life includes a variety of food sources from each food group including seafood which contains long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. These long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, specifically the essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids supplied through seafood, nuts, seeds, and oils, influence the infant’s fatty acid status and are among the key nutrients needed for the rapid brain development that occurs through the infant’s first 2 years of life. 

When can I introduce salmon to my baby? 

Salmon may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, but most importantly, consult your pediatrician first. As with any food, it is recommended to serve salmon to your baby in moderation.

Why is salmon a good food choice? 

Salmon contains many essential nutrients Baby needs, including vitamin D, iron, selenium, and zinc. Salmon is also one of the top seafood sources of omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA, which makes up a large percentage a baby’s brain and is critical for visual and cognitive development.

What type of salmon should I select? 

When shopping for salmon, make sure you look for wild-caught fresh salmon from Alaska, which tends to be low in toxins. Canned salmon is also an excellent option, as long as the can is marked “no salt added” or “low sodium” as well as “BPA-free”. Baby should only be offered high quality salmon to ensure no extra, unnecessary additives are included. 

What should I look out for? 

Canned Fish: Be selective when choosing canned fish. It can be high in sodium, which in excess, is not good for babies. BPA is also a chemical used to line the interior of cans and pouches that can interrupt your baby’s hormone levels and bodily functions. 

Bones:  Always pick out pin bones and run your fingers through the fish to make sure there aren’t any bones left. Unlike shrimp and shellfish, salmon is not a common choking hazard for babies, but bones in fresh fish can present a hazard if not removed.

What about fish allergies? 

Only about 1% of Americans are allergic to finned fish. Like you would do with any other food, introduce salmon by serving just a little bit (.5-1 oz) for the first 2-3 of times and watch closely over 3-4 days as your baby eats. If there is no adverse reaction, you can slowly start to increase the amount. If you have a family history of allergies, or suspect your baby may be allergic to fish, consult an allergist before introducing seafood.

Anything else I should consider? 

Have fun with it! Fish is a great item to mix and match with various foods and can be prepared in a number of ways. Explore different recipes to give your baby options and discover what they prefer. 

We have some great salmon recipes for babies and toddlers

Salmon Purée Recipe 
Salmon Meatball Recipe  

Salmon Meatballs for Toddlers

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