When Can Babies Eat Tuna?

image001You probably already know that fish is an excellent food, especially for growing bodies. Fish contains a whole host of good things, including omega-3 fatty acids, as well as lots of protein, vitamin D and other great nutrients. This means it’s excellent for a child’s brain and eye development.

Among the most popular fish is tuna, a salt-water fish that is found in sandwiches, casseroles, salads and more. There are numerous types of tuna, but white tuna (also known as albacore) or light tuna (also known as skipjack) are the most popular ones. But when can babies eat tuna? We seek to answer this hotly debated question below.

When Can Babies Eat Tuna?

Some people believe that eating tuna is no problem, while others think that children shouldn’t be introduced to tuna until they are much older. Most experts, however, believe that some tuna in moderation is fine for young children, as long as some precautions are heeded when introducing the new food.

When choosing when to let your baby eat tuna, keep in mind any food allergies that might be in your family. Food allergies can be genetic, so make sure that you don’t have anyone in the family allergic to fish before you think about giving it to your child. If there are no allergies in your family, you can consider giving tuna to your child at the six-month mark, or when he starts eating more solid foods.

How Can You Introduce Tuna to Babies?

There are a few steps you should take when introducing tuna to your child. Here is what to keep in mind before you dish up that first bite:



Use only thoroughly cooked tuna

Though sushi might taste great for adults, it’s a different story for little children. Make sure that the tuna is cooked thoroughly to avoid any risk of bacteria. Make sure there are no bones in the tuna, as this can lead to a choking hazard. Canned tuna is a way to help avoid the problems that might come from undercooked tuna.

Limit the intake

Remember that no matter what types of tuna it is, it likely has some level of methylmercury, which can be harmful in large quantities. Babies might be particularly susceptible to the problem, so make sure to limit their intake to twice a week, at most. And always opt for the canned albacore, as it is likely to have less methylmercury.

Combine tuna with veggies

Make sure your baby gets the best food possible by combining the tuna with tiny bits of pureed veggies. This ensures that your baby gets plenty of food nutrients and minerals, and if she is already comfortable with veggies, it encourages her to enjoy tuna, too.

Watch for allergies

Does your baby have a food allergy? You might not know until that first meal of tuna. If your child has swelling of the tongue, lips or face or a rash, that’s a bad sign. A child who is wheezing, vomiting, has diarrhea or a cramping stomach is likely dealing with a food allergy, especially if it is right after eating the tuna. In this case, call your doctor right away and don’t give your child tuna again.

Serve tuna on a regular basis

A baby is unlikely to eat an entire can of tuna, but offering only a ½ ounce at a meal can be the perfect amount. A child who weighs 20 pounds can safely have one can of tuna every three weeks, so stretch that can over meals offered about once a week.

Here is a great way to cook tuna baby pasta at home. It’s a nice departure from the usual baby foods and offers a way to get your child to eat more tuna:

Precautions to Take When Introducing Tuna to Babies

Once you have decided to feed tuna to your baby, take these precautions to heart. They can help ensure that the feeding goes smoothly and there are no problems with the intake of tuna for your child.



Take it slow

If you’re not sure about your child eating tuna, take it slow at first. Talk to your doctor about it, especially if food allergies run in the family. Even a seafood allergy might mean that your child could have a fish allergy, so be very careful when introducing the new food.

Watch for mercury contamination

Remember, tuna has some level of mercury in it, and that can be bad in large quantities. Too much mercury can lead to problems, including sensory impairment, such as problems with vision, hearing or speech. It might also lead to lack of coordination and problems with sensations in the body. If you see any of these things happening to your baby, it would be a good idea to cut out the tuna and see a doctor.

Don’t give too much

It can be very easy to give your child too much tuna. The Environmental Protection Agency says that it’s okay to eat up to 12 ounces of light tuna or six ounces of white tuna in a week. If your child really loves tuna and wants it all the time, those numbers can add up significantly, and can lead to mercury poisoning rather quickly. To avoid this, make sure to measure carefully how much tuna your child eats.

Try another type of fish

Almost all fish contains mercury, but some has less than others. Salmon is one of those that have less. If you want to give your baby fish but you are worried about the mercury poisoning that could come from tuna, opt for salmon instead. The good news is that salmon has many of the same nutrients as tuna, so your baby is still getting a great food.

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