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!