Try as you may to include seafood and fish in your toddler’s or young kid’s diet, they keep pushing the plate away, nose usually turned up in disgust. It just seems impossible to get your baby even slightly interested. If you’re seriously considering giving up, read on to find why including fish and seafood in your kid’s diet is hugely important and check out some lip-smacking fish recipes that will surely make that happen.
Diet plays a significant role in children’s overall development. A healthy and balanced meal plan is essential for normal growth, and it’s important to start building healthy eating habits early. Unfortunately, too many kids around the world don’t get enough vital nutrients.
A look at the 2020-2025 dietary guidelines for Americans reveals the gap between essential nutrient consumption and the actual intake of American children. The report shows that kids in almost all age brackets don’t consume the recommended amount of vegetables and protein. This gap is smaller for babies or toddlers dependent on an adult (parent or caregiver) for their food. The difference between recommended and actual nutrition increases with age.
As for protein intake, meat and poultry consumption is satisfactory in most age brackets. However, kids are far behind when it comes to seafood consumption.
Seafood, a protein subgroup that can support intakes of beneficial fatty acids, is consumed at levels far below the lower end of the recommended intakes range.-USDA dietary guidelines
Seafood, which includes fish and shellfish like shrimp, brings a lot to the table. This food group is rich in:
- Omega 3
- Omega 6
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
Why do kids dislike fish?
As beneficial as fish is for your kid, it’s not reason enough for them to actually eat it. The trick is not just to get them to eat but enjoy it.
- Most kids don’t like the texture of fish as it’s not precisely meat-like.
- It smells “fishy.” Kids react strongly to odors, and if something doesn’t smell good, it’s not going in their mouths.
I don’t entirely blame the kids because, being a picky eater myself, I used to dislike eating fish for the same reasons. My first enjoyable experience of consuming this food was at a local street eatery in India. The fish was cooked with spices and herbs that disguised its smell. Since then, I have tried plenty of recipes based on seafood to make it easier to include it in my family’s diet.
How to get your child to eat fish
These simple tips will help you in getting your kid to eat fish:
- Start early and be consistent.
- Aim for meal variety to encourage taste.
- Give your child some time to get used to the taste and texture of fish – this may take a while.
- Check FDA guidelines and EPA guidelines to ensure you cook the right fish for your family.
- Follow these simple guidelines on how much fish kids in every age group should consume.
Fish recipes your little ones will actually eat
Here are some simple and delicious recipes that will get your kid hooked on fish. Before we delve into the specifics, keep these important things in mind:
- Along with the drop in protein and vegetable intake, studies have found a sharp increase in sodium consumption and added sugar. Our recipes take this into account and are low on salt and sugar.
- To reduce saturated fat intake, the recipes use oil sparingly as fish is usually high in good fats.
- Instead of focusing on one nutrient, the recipes here try to cover various nutrient and food types (vegetables, starch, etc.) to create a balanced dish.
What is the funniest excuse your kid has come up with to avoid eating fish? Share with us in the comments below.