When the little one is ready to take the spoon, it is natural to experiment with different foods and recipes in a bid to expand their taste buds. However, there are a few exceptions, and shellfish is one of them. Before you scoop a spoonful of lobster bisque or a nutritious serving of shrimp alfredo onto the young one’s plate, you need to talk to a pediatrician first, especially if the baby is under the age of one year.
For starters, shellfish can cause severe allergic reactions, so you need to be cautious. Some of the factors that determine whether or not you can serve your baby a plate of shellfish include;
- Your family’s medical past
- History of allergies and asthma in your family
So, When Can Your Baby Eat Shellfish?
Most medical practitioners don’t recommend feeding of shellfish to babies until they’re nine months old and even then, you can only feed them certain species such as salmon only. At 12 months, you can start to feed the young one with shrimp or lobster primarily because at this stage, the baby’s immune system is developed to prevent an allergic reaction.
There is a general feel in the medical circles, however, that the best age to introduce a baby to shellfish is three years especially if there’s a family history of eczema, severe and seasonal allergies or if the baby has asthma or food allergies. In each of the cases, you should wait until the child can eat fruits, meat, poultry, meat, and vegetables.
How Do You Introduce Shellfish to Babies?
After establishing the right age to feed shellfish to your child, the next question becomes, how do you do it? Here’s an outline of how to do it;
Introduce One Type at a Time
Start by giving him or her something that can be quickly pureed such as crab or lobster. Avoid giving the baby finger sized pieces of shellfish such as shrimp until when he or she can chew foods without a problem. Make sure you introduce one fish at a time.
Ensure That the Shellfish is Adequately Cooked
Never give your baby raw or undercooked shellfish like ceviche or sushi. Such shellfish may contain viruses and bacteria that may put the baby at a risk of contracting some serious ailments.
Introduce Shellfish at an Interval of Three Days
Be sure to wait for three days until you can introduce a different type of shellfish to your baby so that can see how he or she reacts to the first type.
Be on the Lookout for Allergies
Every time you introduce a new type of shellfish to your baby or any other kind of food for that matter, be sure to check for the symptoms of food allergy such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, skin rash, wheezing and swelling of the tongue and lips. Seek immediate medical advice in case of an allergic reaction.
When Allergies Occur, What Next?
While shellfish is widely seen as seafood, the allergy it causes is different from other fish because shellfish is genetically different. Thus, understanding shellfish allergy is the first step toward finding the cure. For starters, there are two types of shellfish allergies;
- Mollusks including clams, oysters, and scallops
- Crustaceans such as shrimps, crab, and lobster
It is important to know that shellfish allergy can affect anyone even if they’ve eaten it before with no problem. While it is possible to outgrow allergies, those caused by shellfish are entirely different and can last a lifetime. Besides, shellfish allergies tend to be severe in comparison to other types of food allergies.
Avoid feeding your baby with shellfish if you have had an allergic reaction before. Also, be sure to have an Epipen injection around if the young one has an allergic reaction. Be sure to inform other parties who interact with your child on a day to day basis such as school officials and caregivers about the allergy as well. Whenever possible, let the young wear a medical bracelet.
How Do You Prevent Shellfish Allergies?
Some of the preventative measures you can put in place to ensure that you baby is not a victim of allergic reactions caused by eating shellfish include;
- Reading food labels to make sure that there aren’t any traces of shellfish
- Seek information on the internet on how to safeguard your baby against shellfish allergies
- Talk to your health care provider about the steps to take in case of an allergic reaction
- Avoid giving your child shellfish altogether
Shellfish is one of the most nutritious seafood with substantial amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. However, you must feed it to your baby with caution to avoid unnecessary allergic reactions. And if it is a must that you serve the little one with shellfish (even when they react to it) make Epipen your friend.