Serving Seafood to Your Preschooler
Seafood (fish and shellfish) can be part of a healthy diet for preschoolers.
Omega-3 fats in seafood have important health benefits for young children. These benefits can outweigh concerns about chemicals that may also be in seafood. Learn about making wise choices below.
Healthy Fats in Seafood. The nutritional value of seafood is of particular importance in early childhood. Seafood provides important nutrients like omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats from seafood are healthy fats shown to improve the development of the nervous system of young children. Seafood choices that are higher in omega-3s include salmon, herring, mussels, trout, and pollock.
Mercury in Seafood. Some types of seafood may contain unhealthy chemicals, like mercury. Seafood has varying levels of mercury.
- Choices that are lower in mercury include salmon, flounder, tilapia, trout, pollock, and catfish.
- Your preschooler should not eat fish high in mercury like shark, swordfish, tilefish, and King mackerel.
- Canned “white” tuna (albacore) is higher in mercury than the “light” variety; limit canned white tuna to less than 6 ounces per week.
Choose fish lower in mercury to get the most health benefits. Check for updated information about mercury in fish.
Seafood from Local Waters. In addition to mercury, fish may contain other harmful chemicals, including fish caught in local waters. Check local advisories to learn about the safety of fish caught in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. Advisories may recommend that people limit or avoid eating some types of fish caught in certain places. If no advice is available, your preschooler may eat up to 6 ounces per week of fish from local waters, but no other fish during that week.
Wise Seafood Choices. To get the most out of seafood choices, pick those that are higher in omega-3 fats and lower in mercury more often—like salmon, herring, sardines, Pollock, and trout. Check Appendix 11 of the Dietary Guidelines for other choices to see where your preschooler's favorites stack up.