Q: A friend told me not to give my daughter fish because of the risk of mercury poisoning. Is it okay for young children to eat fish?
A: It’s too bad that methyl mercury has made families wary of serving fish. Fish is not only an excellent source of protein, but it’s also the best source of omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) essential for brain development.
The FDA recommends high-risk groups including young children, pregnant women, women capable of becoming pregnant and nursing moms consume 1-2 servings of fish per week but it can be 2-3 times from the best choice list or 1 from the good choices list (see below).
Be careful of portion sizes. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 1 ounce for children 2-3, 2 ounces for children 4-7, 3 ounces for children 8-10, and 4 ounces for children 11 years and older. If you’re eating fish caught locally, check for fish advisories.
Best Choices: Scallops, shrimp, cod, salmon, sardines, herring, canned light tuna, sole, pollock, crab, and Atlantic mackerel
Good Choices: Bluefish, Chilean sea bass, halibut, canned albacore tuna, yellowfin tuna, tilefish (Atlantic ocean)
Avoid: Shark, swordfish, tilefish (Gulf of Mexico), bigeye tuna, orange roughy, marlin, king mackerel
For more details about feeding children of all ages, check out Maryann’s book Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters From High Chair to High School