Safe to Eat Fish for Babies and New Moms


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.


salmon rawas
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.
Mercury: Low
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.
Mercury: Low
Select the big Pomfret for kids as small ones have tiny and thin bones.
Good for baby and you.

Black Pomfret/Halva

halwa black pomfretAnother 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.
Mercury: Low
For babies and mothers: Good


sardines tarli
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.
Mercury: Low.
Babies, mothers can eat Sardines (Tarli/Pedvey) and enjoy its health benefits.


mackerel bangdaVery high Omega 3 fatty acid. Good for brain development but it’s not good for babies.
Mercury: HIGH.
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

shellfishShellfish 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

King Fish/Surmai

king fish surmai
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

rohu fish


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.

Important Notes:

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.

Read: Healthy Diet Plan for Indian Moms


About Author


An IT professional, a mom of two, Sapana had belly-only pregnancies in her life & has lost 15Kg weight twice. Along with fitness, Sapana is an expert in Indian names & has helped scores of Indian parents to shortlist suitable baby names by virtue of her years of expertise in Sanskrit origin names & logical approach towards cultures & trends during the name research. Drop a comment to get help from her.


  1. Avatar

    I was literally searching with lot of websites.. Got all information in your Site.Very Useful information. thank you so much Sapna for sharing such a good information.

    • Sapana

      Hi Binod,
      I have stayed in Mumbai for 2 years and used to buy it from market or from FreshNFresh They home-deliver the fresh fish, cleaned and cut pcs. But remember one thing avoid buying fish caught ar Varsova as there were studies and fish were found with very high mercury level in them.

  2. Avatar

    🙁 I stay at Lokhandwala and my guess is that all fish there come from Versova. That’s what I have been eating for the last ten years!
    I wonder where Cambay gets their fish from. I’ve recently started going to their store close by. Or should I just stick to Tilapia variety to be safe.

    • Sapana

      You can never know if the fish (especially from Mumbai) is safe
      Vegetables and fruits are also not 100% safe but atleast we can wash them. The metal inside the fish can not be washed away.
      Pregnant women and Babies must not be given such high risk foods.

      Read these articles: TOI and DNA India. The numbers will surprise you more.
      Why Media doesnt cover such news in highlights?

      Fresh water fish seems better option but when its about Mumbai you know the pollution levels.

    • Sapana

      Hi Bindu, Rohu is safe to eat as its low in mercury but you must take it from a safe source. The place where it was caught should not be polluted. I know its very hard to know so buy it from the direct fishman. As rohu is a freshwater fish, local fishermen usually catch it from local rivers or lakes.

  3. Avatar

    I kept eating fish while I was pregnant – and was so happy to get back to it after my son was born. It’s one of my favorite foods!

  4. Avatar

    Hi.. my folks say not to eat fish during the 1st trimester .. I had only one good slice of anjal fish for dinner & had nothing else with it as I like eating fish only for dinner & no other compliments to it .. is it something wrong with it .. causing me a little worry though 🙁

    • Sapana

      Hi Shareen,

      Anjal is Surmai/King Fish right? According to my knowledge it contains high to medium level of Mercury. The origin of fish affects the level of Mercury level. Basically most of King Fish come in Not-Safe list for Pregnant women.

      One piece can do no harm to you or baby.
      So do not worry. In fact you can have it once in a few weeks, but do not have it regularly.

  5. Avatar

    Very nice information.. I was thinking of having fish today so searching abt it.. your research is very helpful. Thanks . Nice n helpful site for mom n the baby

  6. Pingback: Are Shrimp and Prawns Safe to Eat During Pregnancy? | GoMama 24/7

  7. Avatar

    I have read an article that states 8 ounces of salmon, or 16 sardines a week is ideal to have enough omega-3s intake with less mercury level. Is the amount appropriate?

    Also let me know is there any necessity to include fish in diet? I don’t like fish at all. Hope there will be no issue with my baby.

    • Sapana

      These ideal intake limits are usually general and as you know they assume ideal situation like pollution free source of fish and also if you are used to have fish regularly. If you dont like fish that’s ok, replace it with other nutritious foods specially the DHA rich foods like Flax seeds, walnuts etc.

  8. Avatar

    Hello mam thanks for the info.Can you please give an information of snake head fish (korameenu fish in Telugu).Can pregnant women eat this fish

    • Sapana

      Hi Sandeep,
      Sorry for late reply.
      I studied about the fish. Its called as Channa striata in English, Dekhu/Morul in Marathi n Hindi, but I personally have not tried this fish.
      The snakehead fish no doubt is healthy, in fact it is specially given to new-moms to heal from baby birth specially the c-section also infants for brain growth.
      so it should be safe for pregnant women in normal conditions.
      I found this Malaysian Hospital Research Study Link : BioMedCentral (Study of health benefits of this fish for new moms)
      I could not find the natural Mercury level of this fish but remember one thing the source of the fish has great impact on its quality and safety.
      Make sure the fish is caught from non-harmful source.
      Many times govt publishes such articles: Mercury Contamination in Channa striata Thailand (This one is not from India). Mumbai has many such harmful sources still in use. I dont know much about other parts of India.

  9. Pingback: What Not To Eat During Pregnancy? | GoMama 24/7

    • Sapana

      Hi Bikash,
      Ravas is Indian Salmon (You wont get exact taste and color of Western Salmon.)
      Sardine is popularly known as: Indian Oil Sardine = Mathi (மத்தி) or Chaalai in Tamil = Mathi or “Kavalai” Chaala in Kerala/Malyalam. “Pedvey/Padwa/Washi/ Tarla” in Hindi / Marathi.

  10. Pingback: Homemade Fish Fingers for Kids: Tips and Recipe | GoMama 24/7

  11. Avatar

    Hello mam thanks for the information . Can you please give an information of trevally para ( Yellow ) &Tilapia . Can pregnant women eat this fish

    • Sapana

      There is no much information about mercury contents of Trevally para. Tilapia is a fresh water fish and the source matters in river fish.
      Contaminated source is major issue in fresh water fish.
      Sorry could not help much.

    • Sapana

      Hi Kriti,
      This is how I found the best way to feed fish to babies:
      Steam the fish (any safe type, listed above) or shallow fry it with little olive oil.
      It is very difficult to be sure of no-bone when you feed it after taking them our manually, so I used to simply strain the meat of the fish thru the strainer (sp. baby food strainer)
      Mix it with soft food like boiled potato or simply feed as it is. Your baby may or may not like it but keep o trying with simple recipes like making Veg+Fish stew. etc.

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