Should You Give Your Baby Seafood?
Don’t we all love seafood? Barring seafood allergies, many people surely want to have some of that delicious marine protein on their tables. Seafood simply has that sort of gastronomic charm that makes us want for more. What’s more is that seafood makes for a far healthier alternative to red meat like beef and pork.
Seafood sure makes for a great treat for adults, but is it also safe for babies? While it is not harmful when ingested by infants, pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene, author of the book Raising Baby Green, gives us a warning that this will lead to the potential development of allergy and early mercury exposure.
Dr. Green recounts how it has been widely advocated that parents should delay giving their children food that can cause allergies. These foods include fish, nuts, peanuts, and shellfish to infants as, unlike many other food-related allergies, these do not usually last for the rest of the baby’s life. Delaying the introduction of such food to babies is widely believed to decrease the risk babies have of developing allergies to them.
On the contrary, the American Academy of Pediatrics has reversed their position regarding this matter back in January 2008. The expert pediatricians of the Academy believe that there is pretty much no evidence convincing enough for us to conclude that waiting to introduce any food after the baby has reached four to six months of age reduces the risk of developing allergies to it.
Some evidence, on the other hand, points out that delaying the introduction of certain foods before the baby’s first birthday is a lot better than doing so later. It is recommended, however, that you will need to avoid common foods that cause allergies while the child is taking antibiotics, or if you are advised that the good bacteria in your baby’s digestive system may, for some reason, not be intact. These foods include the much-beloved shellfish, alongside other sources including dairy, eggs, fish, nuts, peanuts, soy, and wheat.
Let’s say that again: If your baby is currently taking antibiotics or if the beneficial bacteria in the child’s digestive system is not intact, avoid giving them shellfish. Now that’s not the only reason why you need to keep seafood and seafood products for yourself and away from your baby’s mouth, and shellfish is not the only seafood that you should have your child avoid. It is also well known that seafood may contain a high level of mercury as well as other industrial contaminants that could adversely affect the child’s developing brain.
Now that does not mean that you will have to have your baby stay away from all sorts of seafood. These types of food have undeniable health benefits that often outweigh the negative effects caused by the often-present contaminants. If you are looking to go this route, you should refer to the information published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding safe seafood consumption for babies. You can also refer to the Smart Fish Calculator, an excellent tool that can calculate what amount of seafood should be considered safe based on the child or the parent’s body weight.
Indeed, while seafood may contain contaminants like mercury and may not be good for children under certain medical conditions, this type of food should always be an option when it comes to choosing the components of a healthy diet for children. Fish, in particular, are very rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that are known to give brain development a nice boost while also being an excellent source of protein and Vitamin D.
Contaminants like the toxic element mercury sure is a major concern with regards to seafood. Not all, however, contain more than the safe amounts of contaminants that will simply end up flushed out of your baby’s system. Thus, knowing what kind of seafood and what species to feed your children about this is imperative. The best resource that can help you out with this are the guidelines set by the EPA or the FDA, which you can easily find in these government organizations’ respective websites. You can also make use of free online resources such as Seafood WATCH. In any case, these resources will provide you with information about marine food that is not only safe for you and your children but is also beneficial to the oceans.
To conclude, seafood is healthy to both adults and children, but for your babies, you will need to be extra careful. Consider delaying the time that you will have to introduce fish, shellfish, and other seafood at an age before your baby gets to their first year, and also consider any confirmed medical conditions that your baby may have. Choose your seafood wisely as well if you don’t want them to negatively affect your baby’s development.