There are a number of canned fish types on the market that are suitable for babies. When shopping for canned fish, keep the following in mind:
- Mercury levels: You won’t find them on any label, so have a look at our fish guide and make sure you know what fish are safe—and which are not. When it comes to canned fish, generally North Atlantic mackerel (or Pacific “chub” mackerel), sardines and salmon are lowest in mercury and safe for babies.
- Sodium. From fish to beans, canned products can have exceedingly high levels of sodium. Look for fish packed in water is marked low sodium. If you can’t find low- or no-sodium canned fish, look for the products with the lowest amount of sodium (generally we suggest you look for canned fish with less than 100mg of sodium per serving) and rinse the fish under water which will remove a significant amount of sodium. To read more about how much sodium babies can have, hop over to our Sodium page.
- BPA-Free. BPA is a chemical used to line the interior of cans and plastic bottles that can disrupt your baby’s bodily functions. Look for cans or pouches that are marked “BPA-free” when purchasing canned fish for a baby.
In terms of brands, there are a number of them that meet the above qualifications; you just need to look closely at the labels. Wild Planet has confirmed with us that their canned sardines and mackerel are BPA-free, though their sardines have the backbone still (which is easy to remove, but worth noting). For a video on how to remove the backbone easily, see our Sardine page.
Remember that fish is common food allergen, so if you suspect your baby may be allergic to fish, talk with a pediatric allergist before introducing fish at home.
★Tip: If you bought “boneless sardines” and you see little hairline bones when you open the can, don’t fret. The sardine’s primary bones have been removed, and your babies can actually eat the tiny soft bones because they crumble under the slightest pressure.