This is an opinion piece based on my instincts and independent online research (ie Google searching). I am not a doctor, etc etc. You should make your own judgements when feeding your children and talk to your pediatrician as you see fit.
I have posted a few times about bringing Sebastian along to sushi, and a lot of you are asking if and when he will have raw fish. The answer is that he hasn’t yet (at 9 months), and now I’m starting to question why. After all, the whole idea of baby-led weaning is to let Baby experience what the rest of the family is eating. Sebastian has sampled cooked crab and unagi (eel) – Why not some sashimi?
Pregnant women are often told to avoid sushi, although I ate it weekly throughout my entire pregnancy starting the moment my morning sickness subsided. When I started looking into it, there aren’t really any good reasons that I can find not to introduce your small child to raw sushi. Yes, consuming any raw or rare food is riskier than cooked, but that also includes meat and eggs. Even peanut butter and spinach have been recalled due to salmonella fairly recently. Sushi grade raw fish in a restaurant is pretty unlikely to carry parasites or dangerous bacteria. I eat a good amount of sushi and have never gone home with so much as indigestion.
Some sushi suggestions:
- Obviously, go to a reputable sushi restaurant. Choose somewhere you’ve been before, somewhere with a good rating, and somewhere that looks clean.
- Avoid feeding your child fish if someone in your family has a fish allergy. (Duh)
- Fish lower on the food chain are lower in toxins like mercury. Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tuna (raw or cooked) which is higher in mercury. Salmon is a good (and delicious!) option. Shrimp and tilapia are also lower in mercury.
- If possible, eat wild rather than farmed salmon to avoid toxins and hormones.
- Be extra diligent about choking. Raw fish has a different texture than babies may be used to.
- Watch out for wasabi. I know that some babies like heat and spice but Wasabi has a sinus-clearing kick that is unlike other hot sauces so introduce it very slowly if at all.
- While it doesn’t guarantee no illness, breastfeeding passes on your immunities to Baby, helping to protect them from things you are both exposed to.
Next time we go out for sushi, I am going to give Sebastian a taste of Mama’s salmon nigiri. I also have my eye on this First Book of Sushi board book to teach him all about one of our favorite foods. They say that babies are open to new flavors until around age two, at which point they stick to what they already know, so it is important to bring in those new tastes sooner rather than later.
How about you – Has your baby tried sushi? What are your baby’s favorite ‘controversial’ foods?