Five Ways To Serve Canned Sardines To Your Baby

Posted on Feb 23 2010 - 2:19pm by Christine

Did you know that canned (or tinned) sardines are brimming with beneficial nutrients for your baby? They are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which not only help with the development of your baby’s brain, but are also a great immunity booster.

Sardines baby food ideas
Sardines are also very high in calcium (particularly when packed with their bones) and contain B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, manganese, copper and zinc.

Source: Nutrition Data

Another benefit of including sardines in your baby food recipes is that they are very low in mercury (source: Natural Resources Defense Council – Consumer Guide to Mercury In Fish), often a concern with other types of fish and the reason that doctors often recommending limiting their consumption. Being low on the food chain and small in size, sardines are considered to be one of the safest fish in terms of mercury content.

Who knew that such a readily available (and inexpensive) food could be so good for your little one?

Not all canned sardines are created equal – quality varies from one brand to another and it’s generally the more expensive brands that are the best.

Check the label and avoid those that contain ‘extras’ like preservatives or flavourings . We recommend giving those sardines packed in sauces a wide berth, as we often find the sauces range from poor to downright unpleasant in taste – they also contain added salt, which you want to avoid in your baby’s meals.

If you’d like to learn about some of the more ‘gourmet’ canned sardines available, then head over to the Sardine Society, where there’s lots of information for the sardine aficionado!

The bones in sardines are very small – and the cooking that forms part of the canning process softens them considerably, to the point where they are easily crushed when the sardines are mashed with a fork. If you have any concerns about serving them to your baby, then it IS possible to buy boneless (and skinless) canned sardines – but they will contain far less calcium than the ‘bone-in’ variety.

We have introduced canned sardines to our little ones from around 7 months of age, with crushed bones, although you should check with your doctor before giving any new foods to your baby. The bones have never been an issue for us, but if you think your baby may not enjoy them, then by all means go ahead and use the boneless variety until he’s a little older.

So how can I include sardines in my homemade baby food recipes?

If you’re not a fan of sardines – or have never tried them before – you may find the sight of them a little off-putting when you open the can – particularly if their skins are still on!

But their flavour is so much nicer than their appearance would have you believe – many people (us included) find them so delicious they eat them straight from the can!

Here are some creative ways to serve sardines to your baby…

  • Mash them well, then combine with cream cheese (we like to add a little sweet paprika, too). This creates a nutritious spread, which you can use to top pieces of bagel or whole wheat toast.
  • Stir mashed sardines into scrambled eggs – a great idea for lunch!
  • Mix sardines with cottage cheese and finely diced cucumber to make a quick and easy salad.
  • Mash together sardines and avocado, with a little chopped fresh cilantro (coriander), for a nutritious sandwich filling or toast topper.
  • Saute a little garlic in olive oil, add fresh, chopped tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes have broken down. Add mashed sardines, cook for several more minutes, then toss with spaghetti (chopped to size) or small pasta shapes. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and you have a delicious dinner for baby with a Mediterranean twist!

Mmm… writing this post has inspired us to go and buy some tasty sardines for lunch! If you have a wonderful way of preparing these fabulous fishies for your baby (or for the rest of the family), then please do share your ideas!

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

  1. Amanda February 23, 2010 at 3:17 pm -

    Yum! Besixes my parents, I am the only person I know that loves sardines. I ate them all the time when I was pregnant!! Do you suggest sardines packed in water or oil? I think I’ll make the cream cheese & paprika spread right now!!

  2. Jonny Hamachi February 23, 2010 at 5:29 pm -

    Welcome to the Society.

  3. Christine February 23, 2010 at 6:31 pm -

    Thanks Jonny! And Amanda, either type is good (as long as there’s no salt etc added) but water packed sardines may just have the edge! As we mentioned in this post about tuna: -the theory is that the beneficial fatty acids in the fish blend with the oil in the can, so some may be lost when the fish is drained. But since oil and water don’t mix, those wonderful fatty acids are not as likely to leach into the water – meaning your baby will get more of them!

  4. fay May 4, 2011 at 3:30 am -

    this was very helpful as ive been wonderin how best to serve sardines TO MY BABY… I JUST EAT THEM ON TOAST BUT THE SPAGHETTI THING SOUNDS GOOD 🙂

  5. kazimla October 14, 2015 at 11:26 am -

    I wil try the sardines I was confused did not know what to prepare for my baby

  6. Rebecca Cowley April 13, 2017 at 12:05 pm -

    Hi there, I was just wondering how long you can keep the Aldine and cream cheese pate in the fridge for. It’s delicious by the way!

    • Christine April 17, 2017 at 9:36 am -

      Hi Rebecca – glad it’s a hit 🙂 We’d recommend keeping it in the fridge for up to 2 days.

  7. Lolo September 6, 2017 at 2:25 pm -

    Hi, what can you say about Pilchards in tomato sauce?…does it have the same nutrients as the Sardines?

    • Christine September 7, 2017 at 11:04 am -

      Hi Lolo – pilchards in tomato sauce tend to contain a lot of added salt, making canned sardines a better choice 🙂 (Note: (Pilchards and sardines are both from the herring family)

  8. Marija November 14, 2017 at 11:16 am -

    Great ideas! I prepared bread spread for my 1 yr old today, so I put in baby blender:
    1 hard boiled egg
    1 can of sardines
    4-5 tbsp homemade tomato sauce
    1 teaspoon of mayo (you can skip it if you don’t want it)

    He actually ate one small sandwich with whole wheat bread and I was so happy!

    Sardines never crossed my mind before I heard they are regular on kindergarten menu for breakfast. And then I did a little research and realized they are great!

    • Christine November 14, 2017 at 11:45 am -

      Yes, Marija, they really are. Thanks so much for sharing your yummy idea 🙂

  9. Victoria December 14, 2017 at 4:48 pm -

    I love this information!! Thank you!! My little one is lactose and soy intolerant so I need to find some way of getting calcium into her diet. She loves food thankfully and I will definitely look for sardines this weekend in the hope that she loves them ??

    • Christine December 15, 2017 at 8:39 am -

      Good luck Victoria – fingers crossed she enjoys them 🙂

  10. Emily May 18, 2018 at 8:59 pm -

    Hello, my toddler (just turned 2) has been very fussy with MEALS however eats a good range of veg and fruit and the only meat/fish she eats is sardines, and she would eat them every day if I offered it to her! I give her two a week as I guess it is her 2 servings of oily fish a week. I do however get worried that she gets too much salt because they seem very salty, she will only have the ones in tomato sauce.. can I give them to her more than twice a week? Thanks.

    • Christine May 22, 2018 at 10:58 am -

      So sorry for the late reply Emily! I think I’d limit the sardines to twice a week max as the salt content of the sauce may indeed be quite high. Have you tried cooking fresh ones for her – will she eat those?

  11. mustefa aliyi July 12, 2018 at 8:01 pm -

    I have child of age 7 can feed Sardinia .is it have side effect on 6-12 month child? please I am eager to get information about these.

    • Christine July 13, 2018 at 11:12 am -

      Hi Mustefa – as we mentioned in our post, we introduced sardines at around 7 months. As with all foods, introduce a small amount of sardine by itself at first, to make sure there is no sign of any allergic reaction. There is a list of ideas for including sardines in baby’s diet at the end of the post ?

  12. Shuvam July 28, 2018 at 4:24 pm -

    Is fresh sardines ie sardines without a can a good idea for the babies?

    • Christine July 30, 2018 at 11:25 am -

      Yes, although I find it difficult to remove all the small bones and tend to prefer the canned variety for that reason.