Seafood Benefits for Kids

Children are notorious for being picky eaters. However, encouraging your kids to branch out and try new foods can help them get key nutrients that may help them as they develop. According to the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, seafood is packed with protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B and D, iron, and other essential vitamins and minerals that can be beneficial for your child’s health. 
But when can kids have fish? What is safe seafood for children? Here’s what you need to know about the perks of adding seafood to your child’s diet.

Join us for dinner at Caviar Bar for seafood and more on the Las Vegas Strip!

What are the health benefits of fish?

Different types of seafood and fish can give your child’s diet a boost of vital nourishment at a time that is crucial to their development. As explained by the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, eating seafood during childhood and adolescence can support brain growth, lower the risk of developing chronic diseases as an adult, and promote a healthy cardiovascular system. Some fish can even help build strong bones and immune systems.

1. Brain Development

The omega-3 fatty acids in fish and seafood can help little brains grow and improve cognitive skills. Studies have shown that not only does fish consumption increase the volume of gray matter in the brain, but it also can improve academic skills, grades, and IQ testing.

2. Heart Health

Some fish containing omega-3 fatty acids are also good for cardiovascular health. Heart-healthy seafood can lower the level of bad cholesterol in the blood, which reduces the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. In fact, the American Heart Association (AHA) suggests eating two servings of fish per week to get the full benefits of seafood. Try ordering salmon, whitefish, or other mild, fatty fish at your favorite seafood restaurant to introduce your kids to these flavors.

3. Strong Bones

Another benefit of seafood for kids is a boost in bone health. Some fish are an excellent source of vitamin D, which is essential for building bones and teeth. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and develop strong bones as children grow.

As explained by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, children who do not get enough vitamin D may actually develop bone conditions, poor posture, or other issues. Fish also provides the lean protein children need as they grow to build bone and muscle.

4. Immune System Support

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, have been shown to boost the immune systems of infants and children. Kids with respiratory infections or asthma may have reduced symptoms and a better immune response if they consume fish that are high in omega-3 DHA.

5. Reduced Behavioral Problems

One surprising benefit of omega-3s found in seafood is how it affects children with behavioral or emotional issues. Research has shown that children who experience aggression or anti-social behaviors showed improvements after taking omega-3 supplements.

Also, kids can develop important communication and language skills if you spend time eating as a family. Next time you decide to eat out, explore seafood restaurant options to help your kids get important nutrients and social opportunities with family and friends.

What types of fish are healthiest for kids?

Cutting Board with different seafood

While you should always talk to your child’s doctor about any diet restrictions, the American Academy of Pediatrics list these fish options as safe for kids:

  • Light tuna
  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Herring
  • Shrimp
  • Cod
  • Catfish
  • Crab
  • Scallops
  • Tilapia and other whitefish
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Clam
  • Oyster
  • Lobster

The fish you should always avoid are the ones with high levels of mercury. Steer clear of shark, swordfish, mackerel, marlin, bluefin tuna, and orange roughy to prevent any harmful effects of mercury consumption.

When can kids have fish?

Many health experts say there are benefits of fish for babies as young as six months old. Because seafood is a common allergy, it may actually be beneficial to introduce fish at a young age to watch for reactions and to prevent allergies from developing.

For older children based on their age, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends these serving sizes:

  • Ages 2-3 – 1 ounce of seafood
  • Ages 4-7 – 2 ounces of seafood
  • Ages 8-10 – 3 ounces of seafood
  • Ages 11 and up – 4 ounces of seafood

Children should get a serving of fish or shellfish once or twice a week to get the full nutritional benefits of the seafood.

What are DHA benefits for children?

Omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is found in many types of fish and can provide health perks for kids. Some of these DHA benefits include:

  • Help with attention deficit disorder (ADHD)
  • Reduce asthma and respiratory symptoms
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Boost brain health

To get the most out of DHA from seafood, talk to your child’s healthcare provider to see how to increase seafood in your child’s diet.

Can toddlers eat shrimp?

If your pediatrician gives you the green light, shrimp and other shellfish can be introduced to babies at six months of age. However, it’s important that you make sure it’s prepared carefully and has an appropriate texture to prevent choking.

Can toddlers eat sushi?

A woman and a kid eating seafood

Because sushi is typically served raw, it’s important to understand the risks of foodborne illnesses and parasites when considering sushi for your toddler. You should also go for fish with lower mercury levels and avoid anything with a tough texture that may be harder for children to chew. Talk to your child’s doctor to see what they recommend when it comes to sushi.

Enjoying Seafood With the Family

Family meals are a great way to bring everybody together and enjoy each other’s company. Choosing healthier menu options means helping your kids develop good eating habits that can benefit them in the long term. So next time you’re in Las Vegas, join us for dinner at Caviar Bar in Resorts World for a nutritious meal you know is good for you and the kids!

To learn more about the health benefits of fish and shellfish, check out our seafood 101 information, including the facts about caviar cholesterol and healthy seafood options.

Sources:

Allan, D. (17 April 2019). Stop letting your kids stare at iPads in restaurants, science says. CNN.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (January 2022). Vitamin D for Good Bone Health.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Healthy Fish Choices for Kids.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Is it safe for my child to eat sushi?
American Heart Associaiton. (1 November 2021). Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Kim, J-L., Winkvist, A., et al. (8 December 2009). Fish consumption and school grades in Swedish adolescents: a study of the large general population. Acta Pediatrica.
Landes, E. (27 August 2021). Everything You Need to Know About Introducing Your Baby to Fish. Healthline.
Link, R. (9 October 2019). Should Kids Take Omega-3 Supplements? Healthline.
Raji, C., Erickson, K, et al. (October 2014). Regular Fish Consumption and Age-Related Brain Gray Matter Loss. American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
Science Daily. (15 May 2015). Omega-3: Intervention for childhood behavioral problems?
Seafood Nutrition Partnership. (2 April 2019). Health Goodies for Little Seafoodies: Benefits of Seafood for Kids.
Taylor, M. (4 May 2021). Introducing Shellfish to Your Baby. What to Expect.