Safe fish for Pregnant Women, New Moms and Babies in India
Looking for information about eating different types of fish and seafood found in India for you and baby?
Here we have collected all the required information to help you know which fish in India is good for you during pregnancy and breastfeeding or for the baby after you decide to introduce fish to the baby. If you are a non-vegetarian then you should not miss this super healthy food for you and the baby. But, selecting a safe-to-eat fish is more important.
Fish are the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids.The fatty acids like DHA (found mostly in fatty fishes like salmon/Rawas and mackerel/Bangda) help in lowering the blood pressure, strengthen your immune system. They are very good for development of nervous system and the cardiovascular system. They slow down your aging process.
Because of containing essential amino acids, fish consumed in even a small quantity can improve the quality of dietary protein. Only vegetables in diet cannot provide you enough of nutrients.
Does that mean any fish with good fatty acid is good for you and your baby? The answer is NO!!!
For pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and babies it’s very important that you select the right fish. Don’t just look for the source of vital nutrient Omega3 fatty acids but consider other harmful factor to avoid also. You need to select the right fish especially considering the Mercury content of the fish. Mercury is called as nerve poison. Children are more sensitive to it compared to the adults. Therefore, the fish which contains mercury is prohibited to the babies, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. You can introduce fish to your baby once she is around 9 months old. But, you should confirm with your doctor before you start to include fish in baby’s food.
How to Select Right Fish During Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and as a Baby Food?
Fish for baby should be high in nutrients but low in mercury and which is not known for allergy causing. In any type of fish, try buying bigger available fish as the bones will be bigger, visible and hence lesser chances of your baby getting small piece of bone caught in the back of the throat.
Let’s see one by one the most popular and healthy fishes available India.
As you will see everyone talks about the health benefits of Salmon, as it’s the safest of all, high in nutrients and very low in Mercury and low in allergy causing contents. But, can you buy fresh Salmon in India? Well in India we get Rawas which is species of Salmon.
Allergy: Less likely.
Best of all Indian Fish for babies is: Rawas
Excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin B3, B12, Niacin and vitamin E content and hence very good for healthy skin and digestive system. High in Omega-3.
Select the big Pomfret for kids as small ones have tiny and thin bones.
Good for baby and you.
Another rich source of Omega-3 fatty acid, a good source of protein and easily digestible. It also contains Vitamins and minerals like Iron, Iodine, Selenium and Zinc.
For babies and mothers: Good
This fish is one of healthiest foods in the world. Very good supply of omega-3 fatty acids, phosphorus, vit D and protein, calcium, copper, niacin, choline and vitamin B2,B12. Sardines are very good for bones due to high content of Vit D to help absorb consumed calcium and Phosphorus which help strengthen the bone matrix.
Babies, mothers can eat Sardines (Tarli/Pedvey) and enjoy its health benefits.
Very high Omega 3 fatty acid. Good for brain development but it’s not good for babies.
Pregnant mothers/breastfeeding mothers/Babies should not be given this fish.
Powerful source of high-quality protein but like Mackerel, this is also high in mercury so not a good choice for babies or small kids, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
Shellfish During Pregnancy/Lactation/For Baby: Shrimp/Prawns, Lobster, Oyster, Crab
Shellfish are packed with vitamins and minerals. Oysters contain iron, calcium, magnesium along with other minerals and are great source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and D. Other shellfishes like shrimp, prawn and crab are also source of nutrients.
But you should avoid giving shellfish to babies as it is one of the highly allergic foods. It’s best to introduce shellfish after 1 year and after consulting your doctor.
Crab meat is healthy for kids above 2 years (if not allergic)
Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers can eat shellfish if there is no previously known allergy.
Mercury Level: Low
This fish also provide you healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin B-12 and selenium.
Mercury: May contain high, depends on type and place of origin.
Tricky but best to avoid as baby food if you are not sure if it’s low in mercury.
River fish in India
There are various types of river fishes in India. Most common is Rohu or Catla.
Like other healthy fishes, it’s loaded with Omega-3 Fatty acids, proteins. It’s easily digestible, lower in fats, high in minerals such as iron, zinc and calcium.
Rohu-like river fishes are healthy, low in salt and known to be usually low in mercury.
River fish (even Rohu/Catla) may also contain high level of mercury if the place of origin is contaminated water.
1. How to identify fish is fresh: Flesh of the whole fish and its fillets should be firm and shiny. Dull flesh is a sign of old fish.
2. Mercury adversely affects the nervous system, skin and kidneys. Even if we know some fishes contain low mercury e.g. pomfret but be aware that it may contain high levels of mercury depending on the place from where it is caught. In India sometimes even pomfret is found with high level of mercury when tested. Unfortunately, in India, fish catchers don’t provide you such information. It’s advised that you make sure if the fish comes from safe source and try to get enough information of the fish you give to your baby especially before she turns 1yr.
Always watch for the signs of a food allergy after you introduce any new food to the baby. Contact your doctor before you introduce any fish to your child.
As a baby food, you can introduce fish in soup at first then may be mashed or as an ingredient of some other vegetable recipes. Once you start finger food, give your baby fish fingers as these are very much liked by the babies because of the less fishy smell.