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Niche Topics (Pregnancy and Kids) is all about practical parenting advice and parenting
skills to help you deal with common parenting challenges from toddlerhood to teen
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When my son was young, he cringed at the mention of fish and getting him to eat fish
was like the end of the world. I have a big problem with him staring at his plate
with disgust and going “eeww... yucky!” with each tiny bite. I was worried that he
is not getting enough brain food – after all, cold water fish such as salmon and
tuna are reputed to contain bountiful amounts of omega-3 essential fatty acids which
are necessary for brain growth and development.
Many parents I spoke to have a hard time getting kids to eat fish. However, it doesn’t
have to be an impossible task. You just need to make extra efforts, and know some
really clever tricks to encourage regular fish consumption.
But before anything else, you have to keep in mind that fish contains numerous bones
and therfore, very dangerous for young children. One tiny little stray bone/mishap
can turn your kids off fish for good. So, you want to be super picky when it comes
to bone. Flat fish fillets are generally free from bones as are fillets of monkfish
and rock salmon. And, the pin bones remaining in round fish fillets are easy to remove.
Although salmon have the highest omega-3 fatty acids, they also have the strongest
flavor. Many children are not particularly keen on salmons so you might want to try
introducing fish with milder taste first and gradually work your work up. Tilapia
is a good choice because it is inexpensive, super easy to prepare and has a less
“fishy” taste that most kids will accept.
Another thing worth a big mention is, young children can consume up to 12 ounces
a week of fish but make sure to choose fish (and shellfish) that contain lower levels
of mercury. Numerous studies have suggested that too much mercury in a young person’s
diet may slow brain development and impair learning ability, language skills and
As a general guideline, avoid bigger, older and large predatory fish including shark,
ray, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and albacore (white) tuna because they tend
to have high amounts of mercury present in them.
Types of fish that are considered safe to eat include salmon, cod, pollock, flounder
and tilapia. Prawns, lobsters, scallops as well as oysters also fall under the same
category of “low in mercury”.
Make Kids Eat Fish
1. If you always bake fish for your kids, why not look at other ways to prepare it?
Fish is a highly versatile ingredient and there are numerous ways to cook fish –
pan fry, poach, grill or disguise it in pies or lasagnas, make fish tacos, fish cakes
and so on. Be creative, there must be something which your kids like!
2. If your little one is a super picky eater, and prefers fried foods on his dinner
plate, then cook fish that way. It may not be the healthiest cooking method so the
trick is to lightly dust the fish with cornmeal instead of heavy breading. Trust
me, you shave a few calories off his meal while junior munches on crunchy stuff.
3. When you prepare fish, always keep it moist for easy swallowing as some fishes
are hard and kind of “rubbery” when kept for long hours without warming up. You can
poach any type of fish, especially white-fleshed ones like flounder and sole, in
a little water or broth without drying out.
4. Another idea to get your kids to eat fish is by mixing it up. Try this kid-friendly
recipe that can be whipped up in a jiffy – drain a can of chunk light tuna in a pot
and mix together with your kid’s favorite tomato sauce. Heat and spoon over whole
grain pasta for a delicious meal.
5. Many kids are great fans of cheese, and one yummy way to their tummies is to bake
the fish until it is half done and then cover it in shredded cheddar cheese. Heat
and serve right away.
6. We all know that young children are attracted by different shapes and colors,
so experiment with fun shapes and sizes to make fish inviting. Use cookie cutters
to make fancy shapes such as stars, hearts, diamond, circles or cut up fish into
7. Present fish meals in an interesting way – make smiley faces on the fish with
herbs and olives, or let kids build towers with fish fingers. You might also want
to put a marinade into a squeeze bottle and let them decorate their fish meals.
8. Letting your kids help out in the kitchen is one nifty idea to get them excited
about the meal and look forward to it. For example, young children can help sprinkle
seasonings like salt, pepper and garlic.
9. I am not sure about your children but mine just love dips with almost everything.
So, I serve fish sticks or bite-size pieces of salmon burgers with ketchup, tartar
sauce, mustard, ranch, or barbecue sauce. Honey, and orange marmalade dipping sauce
are also great. The dippings are plentiful when it comes to making fish more palatable
to picky eaters.
10. Get your children to eat fish by sneaking it during snack time. Instead of store-bought,
fat-laden crisps or cakes, try making sweet potato salmon cakes, or topping crackers
with tuna salad. You can also mix canned wild salmon with low fat mayo or plain Greek
yogurt for a healthy afternoon snack.
Fish is a good source of protein for growing kids and should be included in every
child’s diet. If you are not having much success the first time round, never give
up. With a little patience and some time, your kids will eventually eat fish and
love it too! Good luck!
How to Get kids to Eat Fish and Come Back for More!
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