It’s not a secret that kids are picky eaters, which can be frustrating, especially when you try to ensure that they have all the nutrients in their meals. Fish dishes are the least favorite for kids because fish stinks, and the bones are difficult to navigate.
However, being the largest source of omega-3 fatty acids and crucial for body and brain development, you must search for creative ways to get your kids to eat fish. Fortunately for you, we’ve compiled this guide offering you ways you can creatively mask the fish flavor or hide the fish in meals to get your kids eating. But first, let’s do a quick recap of all the benefits of eating fish for kids.
Benefits of Eating Fish in Kids
- Your child’s body and brain are still developing and need all the essential nutrients to help them grow.
- Fish is the largest source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital for your child’s healthy brain development. That’s why you find small kids being fed fish oil.
- Fish also contains vitamin D, essential in developing and building strong bones, muscles, and teeth in young children.
- High protein content helps in cell development, which is crucial in growing children.
- It also contains other minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium, which are all important in your child’s overall development.
- Shellfish is very important as it contains copper, essential in producing red and white blood cells in infants.
- Seafood has low sodium content, thus ensuring that your child’s diet does exceed the recommended salt intake levels.
Best Fish to Feed Your Kids
If you want the best tasting fish for your children, ensure it has low mercury content. These are safe, and they include the following:
- Wild Salmon
- Arctic char
- Atlantic mackerel
- Black cod
- Rainbow trout
- Albacore tuna
How Much Fish Should You Feed Your Child?
Now that you know the safest fish species to feed your child, you must also know how much fish to feed. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recommends that kids be fed about one or two servings of fish per week from age two.
New research shows that cooked fish is okay for kids after 6 months. However, you must ensure that it has low mercury content and is well-cooked. Every child under two should be fed 1 ounce of fish per week.
Children above two can be fed about 2 ounces of fish per week, and you can increase this as they grow older.
13 Creative Ways to Feed Your Kids Fish
If your kid is not a fan of fish, use these genius recipes, and they will be clamoring for a bite.
- Fish Burgers
Kids love junk food, but it’s up to you to instill healthy eating habits. Therefore, switch to fish patties instead of meat patties. The best part about using fish in burgers is that they create a great bond with onions and spices.
So grill your fish patties on an iron skillet to give it a good crust on both sides. Coat your skillet with oil or butter on each side to prevent the fish from sticking on the side and falling apart.
If you want to mask the taste of the fish, cook your fish and then mash it with potatoes. Make sure to use eggs or breadcrumbs, as the binder prevents your mixture from falling apart.
- Fish Tacos
Tacos are the best finger foods, and kids love them. So instead of using meat or chicken, try fish. Marinate it with lime juice and your child’s favorite taco spice blend before baking or grilling. Then take your tortilla, stuff it with the fish and other ingredients, and add a sauce topping.
Alternatively, you can cut up your tortilla and make a salad instead of serving it as a taco. It creates an incredible crunching experience, and your child will love it.
- Make Your Fish Dish Sweeter
Kids love sweet things, so make your fish dish sweet, and you can be sure they’ll eat to the last crumb. You can adopt the Hawaiian style of cooking fish, where you marinate the fish and grill. Then serve it with grilled pineapple; the juice helps make the fish sweeter, which can be great, especially for kids who are overly sensitive to texture.
- Grill the Fish
When you cook fish indoors, the smell may permeate the house, making your kid’s appetite disappear. If you want your kids to eat fish, you can opt to prepare and grill it outside, especially if it has a strong fishy flavor.
The grill gives your fish a smoky flavor and perfectly masks its smell and taste; the wind carries away the fishy scent since it’s outside. Ensure your grill is well-oiled, as the fish is light and might fall apart as you flip it.
- Be Creative With the Dipping Sauces
Kids love sweet and savory dippings, and creating a variety of dips to go with your fish will get them to eat. So, forage the internet for kinds of dipping you can create for fish recipes, or go for the basic dips, which include mayonnaise and ketchup, greek-yogurt ranch dip, and guacamole. Make sure to use their favorite ingredients.
- Shrimp Dishes
Shrimps have a sweet flavor and are the most-loved seafood by kids. And the best part is you can serve when it’s hot or cold. And most fish shops sell peeled and deveined shrimps, so all you need to do is just cook them.
Shrimp can be integrated into many recipes as you can cook it with pasta, stir-fry and mix it with salad, make shrimp tacos, or grill it on skewers. The list is endless.
So, experiment differently and identify which shrimp recipe your kids love the most. You can also use scallops or mussels, which are naturally sweet.
- Cook Fish Consistently
If your kids do not love fish but still eat it when served in meals, they can grow to love it if you cook it consistently. Don’t use one recipe; try various fish recipes and use different types of fish, but ensure they are low in mercury.
Cook fish twice a week, and within no time, you’ll find that they are accustomed to its smell, texture, and taste. And to some extent, they’ll even ask you to cook fish.
- Opt for Mild Fish Species
When introducing your child to fish, go for species with mild flavors. Yes, it’s difficult to avoid the smell of fish, but some are smelly than others. Some of the best mild-flavored fish include:
- Wild-caught cod
You can use them to make kid-friendly meals, such as fish balls, fish fingers, or fish and chips. This makes the child feel like they are eating beef or chicken.
- Don’t Overcook
We all know that if you overcook the meat, it becomes dry, thus hard to chew. The same applies to fish. So, avoid overcooking your fish dishes as it would make them unappetizing.
You can try poaching or steaming your fish to keep it moist. If you opt for grilling, marinate it and don’t let it stay on the grill for too long, as it will dry out. When cooking fish, you should stay near and check whether it’s done regularly.
Note: Some fish species are softer than others, meaning they will cook faster, so if you don’t keep on checking, you risk overcooking.
- Serve Creatively
Who doesn’t want to gobble up a meal that looks appetizing? So be creative when serving fish to your kids. Make it fun and appealing by cutting chunky pieces of fish and grilling them as lollipops on skewers. Make mini fish balls or fish cakes. This will distract them, making fish more enticing to eat.
- Let the Kids Help With Cooking
Kids love being in the kitchen with their parents. And will feel proud after they help with the cooking. They will also be more inclined to eat the meals they help cook. So, when you are cooking fish recipes, assign your child some duties in the kitchen.
For instance, if you are making fish fingers, have them dip the fish in the breadcrumbs or add spices to the fish before popping it in the oven. Alternatively, you can have them read the recipe for you.
You can share stories and teach them the benefits of eating fish as you cook.
- Go Fishing With Your Kids
Like cooking, your children will be more inclined to eat the fish they’ve caught. So, the next time you go fishing, have them tag along and help them catch their dinner.
- Eat Out
We are all blessed differently; for some, cooking fish is not up their alley. And that’s why there are restaurants. As you take cooking classes, don’t deprive your family of eating nutritious seafood.
Research the best seafood restaurants in your area and read reviews. After all, you don’t want your kids to have a bad experience and end up hating seafood.
Request the restaurant to make the best recipe for kids.
Fish is highly nutritious and should be included in your child’s meals for a healthy body and brain development. Don’t let the stinky smell or the fishy flavor stop your kids from eating fish. Use the genius methods above to mask the fishy flavor and make delicious fish meals that will compel your kids to eat more.