Easy to digest and a rich source of the protein which is essential for growing bones and muscles, fish has many special benefits to offer children. As well as providing minerals like zinc, selenium and iodine that healthy bones, muscles and immune systems need, the Omega-3 fats found in oil-rich fish such as trout, salmon and mackerel are essential for brain development.
Over 60% of the brain is made up of fat, and Omega-3 fats make up about half of this. It is important for young children to eat plenty of Omega-3 fats as our bodies cannot make them and they are only found in a few foods.
It can take time for children (and adults) to get used to the new taste and texture of fish, so do offer it at least once a week. As they get more familiar with the feeling of fish in their mouths, children will start to be more comfortable eating it. It pays to be patient. Start with very small amounts of fish, even a mouthful with a meal and gradually work up. It generally takes about 6 weeks of trying a new food to become comfortable with it, so take your time.
Getting Kids to Eat Fish – Top Tips
- Do start with white fish like whiting and haddock which have a milder flavour. As your child gets used to the fish you can add in new varieties and start introducing the stronger tasting oil rich fish.
- Do eat fish yourself. Most children will copy what they see their parents doing – if they see you eating and enjoying fish, they are more likely to try it themselves.
- Do offer fish to children as early as possible. But take care to remove all the bones. We intend to offer lots of boneless fish for this specific reason so don’t be afraid to ask!
- Do get older children involved in cooking and preparing meals with fish – many children are willing to eat anything they have cooked themselves.
- Do try lots of different kinds of fish and different ways of cooking them.
- Don’t force children to eat fish – this usually puts them off. Do encourage them to try even one small taste each time you serve fish and let them eat more of it if they want it.