When Can Babies Eat Fish?

When, Why, and How to Feed Your Baby Fish

baby eating

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The idea of feeding your baby fish might set off an alarm bell or two—especially because fish is one of the top eight food allergens. But most babies can eat fish. Fish is a safe and nutritious addition to most babies' diets once they are ready for solid foods.

While fish may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of baby food, it is a nutritious source of protein that also contains many micronutrients, depending on the variety of fish and how it is processed.

Here is what you need to know about feeding your baby fish, including when to introduce it, what types to select, and how to prepare fish for babies.

When to Start Feeding Your Baby Fish

You can begin feeding your baby certain properly cooked fish as early as four to six months of age. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that there is no evidence that delaying the introduction of fish will prevent babies and children from developing food allergies.

This also applies to other foods that are considered highly allergic, such as milk, eggs, and peanut butter. In fact, there is some evidence that eating fish and other allergens early in life can prevent certain allergic diseases, including asthma, eczema, and allergic rhinitis.

Risk of Fish Allergy

Fish allergy prevalence is estimated at under 2% in children and under 5% in adults, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI). Although rates of occurrence have been increasing, food allergies are still relatively rare overall.

Signs of allergy to fish include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, skin rash, hives, and anaphylaxis, which is an acute allergic reaction that can cause difficulty breathing. If your baby develops a rash, diarrhea, or vomits after eating fish or another food, talk to your pediatrician. If their face swells or they have trouble breathing, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.

Mercury Content

The FDA recommends that you avoid giving young children shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish because of the high mercury levels. Pregnant and nursing women should also avoid these fish.

Good fish to start your baby on (after they have been eating solid foods for a couple of months) that are low in mercury include shrimp, canned light tuna (albacore is higher in mercury), salmon, pollock, and catfish. If your fish is locally caught, the FDA advises contacting local authorities first to see what's safe.

How to Introduce Fish to Your Baby

According to the AAP, you can introduce your baby to highly allergenic foods like fish after they have been introduced to, and have tolerated, a few other solid foods (such as cereal, fruit, or vegetables). Any foods you introduce should be in forms and textures appropriate for infants.

This means you can begin feeding your baby certain properly cooked fish as early as six months of age. Keep in mind that at this age, feeding is mostly to learn different textures and flavors. Babies still receive a majority of their nutrition from formula or breast milk.

When first introducing fish, you may want to make sure you introduce something that is prepared at home as opposed to a restaurant. This way you know how the fish was cooked and that it has been properly deboned.

You also may want to discuss fish introduction with your pediatrician. Depending on your baby's medical history and health needs, their advice may vary slightly from the general recommendations. The also may offer additional suggestions on how to introduce fish, especially if your family has a history of food allergies.

Although research indicates that this delayed introduction may not be necessary, you and your pediatrician know your baby's particular needs best.

Best Fish for Babies

Fish can be a wonderful source of nutrition for your baby. It is packed with lean protein and contains essential fatty acids. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics notes that these fats promote brain development.

Additionally, fish can provide iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium. Certain fish, such as salmon, also contain vitamin D, which is important in the absorption of calcium.

How to Select Fish for Your Baby

When introducing fish to your baby, you will need to consider the characteristics of the fish you are serving.

  • Serve fish with lower levels of mercury, like cod, haddock, tuna, salmon, and tilapia. Avoid swordfish, king mackerel, shark, and tilefish due to high mercury levels.
  • Choose fresh fish when you can.
  • Begin with fish that is mild in flavor, such as flounder, haddock, cod, salmon, and sole.
  • Make sure the fish is properly de-boned to avoid choking hazards.
  • Serve thoroughly cooked fish. Avoid raw, underdone fish as well as ceviche and sushi.

Preparing Fish for Your Baby

You can cook fish in a variety of ways. But how you choose to prepare it may depend on your baby's age and preferences.

If you are making your own baby food, you can chop cooked fish into small pieces and add water, broth, or the juice from cooking, then puree until the desired texture is reached. You may also wish to mix fish with a fruit or vegetable that your baby loves.

Be creative in your combinations. Though peaches and fish may sound like an odd combination to you, your baby might gobble it all up!

Once they are developmentally ready for table foods, babies can feed themselves properly cooked, deboned fish. Just make sure the fish is cut into small pieces that your baby can handle.

You can try steaming, poaching, broiling, baking, grilling, and pan-searing the fish you are serving. In fact, babies need fat, so searing fish with some olive oil is perfectly fine. They also may accept it better because they like the flavor.

Skip deep fried fish due to the potential choking hazard created by the crunchy exterior. In general, limit fried foods when feeding your baby.

Simple Fish Recipes

To feed your baby fish, simply combining fish with a liquid of your choice is a great starting place. Once your baby tries a plain fish preparation, the sky's the limit in terms of incorporating vegetables (and even fruit) into the basic recipe. Here are a few sample fish recipes to get you started.

Homemade Fish Baby Food


  • 1 cup cooked, boneless white fish
  • 1/4 cup breastmilk, formula, or water


  1. Place the cooked fish and liquid of your choice in a blender or food processor.
  2. Blend until it reaches your desired consistency.

Fish With Mixed Vegetables


  • 1 cup cooked, boneless white fish
  • 2 tablespoons breastmilk, formula, or water
  • 1 tablespoon cooked peas
  • 1 tablespoon cooked carrots
  • 1 tablespoon cooked sweet potato


  1. Place the fish, mixed vegetables, and liquid of your choice in a blender or food processor.
  2. Purée to your desired consistency.

Fish With Carrots


  • 6 ounces uncooked whitefish (deboned)
  • 2 tablespoons breastmilk, formula, or water
  • 1/2 cup carrots (peeled, diced, and steamed to softness)
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup grated mild cheese


  1. Place the fish in a microwave-safe dish.
  2. Pour orange juice over the top and sprinkle with cheese.
  3. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and microwave on high for about 2 minutes or until fish flakes easily with ​a fork.
  4. Place the ingredients in a blender or food processor and purée to your desired consistency.

A Word From Verywell

Introducing your child to the wonderful world of solid food is one of the great joys of parenthood—although it does come with its challenges. We promise you'll laugh later when that lovingly prepared bowl of fish and carrots lands on the floor or a spoonful of healthy mashed fish gets spit right back out.

Even with these frustrations, stick with it. Continue to expose your child to diverse flavors, including fish. When introduced, selected, and prepared with care, cooked fish is a safe, nutritious, and tasty food for babies as young as six months old.

8 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Ferraro V, Zanconato S, Carraro S. Timing of food introduction and the risk of food allergy. Nutrients. 2019;11(5). doi:10.3390/nu11051131

  3. American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Latest food allergy research.

  4. Bernstein AS, Oken E, de Ferranti S. Fish, shellfish, and children's health: An assessment of benefits, risks, and sustainability. Pediatrics. 2019;143(6). doi:10.1542/peds.2019-0999

  5. US Food & Drug Administration. FDA and EPA issue final fish consumption advice.

  6. American Academy of Pediatrics. When can I can I start giving my baby peanut butter?

  7. American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Is fish healthy for my baby?.

  8. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Advice about eating fish.

Additional Reading

By Jennifer White
Jennifer White has authored parenting books and has worked in childcare and education fields for over 15 years.