Can Babies Eat Smoked Salmon and Shellfish?

Posted on Aug 18 2010 - 8:50am by Christine
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We recently received a message from mum Emiko from Japan who wanted to know when it would be safe to introduce smoked salmon and shellfish to her 9 month old son.

We thought it might be a good idea to share our answer to Emiko here, just in case you’d been wondering the same thing!

Smoked salmon – whilst it does contain beneficial fatty acids – may also contain quite a lot of salt. At 9 months, we’d recommend only offering it very infrequently – and in very small amounts. You may also like to discuss with your doctor whether or not there is a risk from elevated mercury levels in salmon sold in your area.

It used to be recommended that the introduction of shellfish was delayed well past baby’s first year, because shellfish is one of the most common food allergens. However, this advice has recently changed (see Effects of Early Nutritional Interventions on the Development of Atopic Disease in Infants and Children: The Role of Maternal Dietary Restriction, Breastfeeding, Timing of Introduction of Complementary Foods, and Hydrolyzed Formulas) and some pediatricians are recommending that properly cooked shellfish can be given as early as 6 months. We would suggest checking with your doctor to be on the safe side – reactions to shellfish can be very severe and the likelihood of a reaction is increased by factors such as a family history of food allergy. Your doctor – who is acquainted with your child’s family history – would be the best person to advise you as to the right time for your little one to give shellfish a try.

Those of us who have – for years – adhered to the rule of not serving shellfish until our little ones are over a year old (and usually up to 3 years old) – may feel quite apprehensive at the thought of giving it to our babies from such a very early age. Personally, we still feel that it is prudent to be very careful with highly allergenic foods like shellfish, as a severe reaction can be quite traumatic on a tiny body.

That being said, offering shellfish from an early age is very common in many Asian cultures and we sometimes hear from parents who are surprised that western pediatricians advise any restrictions on shellfish consumption!

We’d love to hear YOUR opinions on this, particularly if your baby is brought up in a culture where shellfish is included in baby’s menu almost as soon as he starts solids. We’d also be very interested to read any shellfish baby food recipes that your little one enjoys. Just leave a comment below – or contact us here. We look forward to hearing from you!

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8 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Megan August 29, 2010 at 1:27 pm -

    I never thought of restricting shellfish for my baby. He’s 11 months old, and over the past 3 months he’s had shrimp, scallops, and mussels. No problems — he seems to be very fond of all fish and seafood, especially canned sardines (high in Omega 3, low in mercury). I haven’t yet fed him any smoked fish, due to high salt and concerns about pathogens.

  2. Michelle January 9, 2011 at 5:46 pm -

    Hi there I have a 8 months old and I have recently give him smoked salmon every 2 weeks and sardines, halibut and haddock he loves all kinds of fish so far. I really never gave it a thought about the sodium in the smoked salmon, thank you :o)

  3. Grace March 21, 2011 at 10:19 pm -

    I don’t believe Salmon is a shellfish, as it doesn’t have a shell.
    I tried Smoked Salmon for the first time with my 17 month old and she seemed to like it but alas the salt made her cheeks break out in a rash so I’ll switch back to regular Salmon.

  4. somuch January 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm -

    True, salmon isn’t a shellfish…but not sure if salt caused your baby to break out in a rash, more likely the salmon did.

  5. Heather March 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm -

    Salmon should not be included in this. My husband is allergic to shellfish but can eat Salmon as it is a fish but not a shellfish. My 12 month old daughters ped. said I can introduce fish like Salmon to her but not shellfish due to her fathers allergy. I’ve always erred on the cautious side due to her fathers allergy but will be offering her salmon tonight. *fingers crossed* hope she likes it!

  6. Christine March 18, 2012 at 11:52 am -

    Thanks for your comment 🙂 I think there may be a little confusion here – we are not suggesting that salmon is a shellfish or including it in the advice about shellfish – this post is in answer to a visitor who asked about both shellfish and salmon. Please see our answer above, where we discussed each food separately. Hope this clarifies things 🙂

  7. Mary April 30, 2012 at 12:12 pm -

    Our 14 month twins have been eating smoked salmon for a month or 2. They eat it like candy. The girls are great eaters, and this is definitely a favorite. We don’t do this for an overwhelming cultural reason, just that we both like to cook and the girls eat what we eat.

  8. Meredith October 5, 2012 at 11:04 am -

    I gave my 14mo old smoked salmon & scrambled eggs something his 4 yr old sister has been eating since 1yrs old. He has had eggs before so we know that wasn’t an issue. He broke out in severe hives and his head blew up Ver red. Went to the emergency room… They said don’t give him smoked salmon. No food allergies in the family.

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