My husband and I love eating raw fish sushi. We are wondering when it is safe to introduce our baby to sushi. We are using a baby-led approach to feeding our 7 month old. He usually eats bits of food from my plate. I don't know if there is any reason why he could not have some of my raw salmon, but my instincts tell me it is not a good idea. Does anyone know when it is safe to introduce babies/children to sushi?

asked 08 Dec '09, 17:31

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edited 08 Dec '09, 19:42

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lgritz
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As I'm sure you know (but as a benefit to other readers), it is a common misconception that sushi is (or requires) raw fish. This is akin to thinking that "pizza" means "pepperoni," confusing a common topping with the thing itself.

Sushi refers to the glazed rice, on top of/inside/around which there are a variety of other foods, which could include raw fish, cooked fish, or no fish at all. ("Sashimi" is a more correct term for the raw fish.)

So you can certainly give sushi to anybody old enough to eat solid foods, even if you are nervous about raw fish. My son was crazy about unagi (cooked eel), tamago (egg), and futomaki (fat rolls with veggies). He also enjoyed many other non-sushi Japanese foods, such as miso soup, various donburi, etc. So pretty much as soon as he was on solids he was enjoying Japanese food and Japanese restaurants, which was super fun for everybody.

Since he was eating food he loved and having a ball, it went practically unnoticed that I was eating various sushi with raw fish while he was not. The few times he asked, "that's for when you're older" was accepted with more or less the same ease as our drinking wine while he doesn't. We've now (age 3) started giving him a little bit of the sashimi when he asks to taste it. I don't know if, scientifically, it was important to wait (I'm sure they don't in Japan), but it made my wife, especially, more comfortable to do so.

Funny aside: as a 2-year-old, my son was quick to learn the Japanese names for all the foods, the names of the workers at our favorite restaurants, and generally ham it up to everybody's delight. One day he was so excited by the unagi he yelled across the restaurant to the sushi chef, "F*ck you, Akira-san!" (At that point he was occasionally, and quite innocently, confusing that phrase with "thank you," much to our horror.) Luckily, we always tip big. :-)

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answered 08 Dec '09, 19:41

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+1 Explanation about Sashimi and Sushi. We did the same. We adore Japanese food too and when we did let her try some of the rolls with salmon and tuna, which she loved. This was when she was around 18 months old.

(08 Dec '09, 20:31) Emi

To be on the safe side, babies should not eat uncooked meet, and that includes fish. Vegetarian sushi on the other hand should be fine for babies and is probably rather healthy if done properly (seaweed specifically is full of good vitamins and minerals).

Babies can probably eat surimi (crab-look-a-like) which is made from cooked fish and could also eat other cooked ingredients - for example as in cooked salmon rolls, but I would be careful with the more exotic stuff such as shrimp or eels - they could trigger allergies and also contain bacteria which may be problematic for infants.

That being said, as far as I heard in Japan children eat sushi as early as they can eat solid foods. But I would be extra careful about the quality of the sushi.

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answered 08 Dec '09, 18:26

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Hi! I think I've also heard that uncooked meat is unsuitable for babies, but in the interest of immunizing this site against urban myths, we've adopted a "back it up" policy (http://moms4mom.com/back-it-up/) where we ask that straight up facts include a reference to more information. You may notice that Igritz' answer borders on violating this principle, but it's also clear from that answer that it's based on personal experience, so it's probably ok. Would you be able to edit this answer to provide some "further reading" references? Thanks!

(08 Dec '09, 23:12) Scott ♦♦

I had also been wondering the same thing we we love Sushi as well. I asked your question on Recipe Labs and you might be interested in the answers...well so far there is only one answer. The owner of the site seems to think 8yrs + would be the best age to introduce raw fish...see his references for more info. on feeding fish in general to young children.

Recipe Lab's answer to Sushi with Raw Fish

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answered 09 Dec '09, 21:58

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edited 09 Dec '09, 22:26

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But if you read carefully, his references do NOT contain more info. He cites one reference about food allergies (six months; I think this question is inherently about somewhat older children), and another reference about mercury levels in some fish. But as far as dangers from the fish being RAW, he says "8 years" but fails to offer any backup whatsoever. I would say that the evidence almost certainly contradicts his position, simply by virtue of the fact that kids in many cultures eat raw fish starting quite young.

(09 Dec '09, 22:06) lgritz
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Our Doctor said stay away from any fish till age 4.

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answered 22 Jan '11, 14:07

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Mark 2
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-1: I'm not sure if this answer is incomplete or not, or if it is just referring to raw fish, but cooked fish is one of the first suggested foods (6-9 months) for babies (although there are some types you should be wary of due to high Hg). Anyway, until it is clarified, I'm giving a -1. For more info re: babies first foods: http://www.beststart.org/resources/nutrition/pdf/feeding_baby.pdf

(24 Jan '11, 04:41) Kate
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Asked: 08 Dec '09, 17:31

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Last updated: 22 Jan '11, 14:07