Freshly cooked cod may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months old. Avoid serving your baby salted, cured, or smoked cod, all of which contain high levels of sodium, which, in excess is not healthy for babies (or adults).
Kaia, 7 months, eats cod and broccoli
Wei Wei, 9 months, eats cod.
Zuri, 15 months, tastes cod for the first time and isn’t into it
Yes, in moderation. While cod is rich in vitamin B12 and iodine, an essential nutrient for brain development and immune system support, it has moderate levels of mercury, a toxic metal present in nearly all fish.
As with all cold-water fish, cod contains vitamin D, a bone-building nutrient that is commonly deficient in babies. Finally, cod is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, which are essential building blocks for cell growth and protection.
When it comes to purchasing fish, it is best to choose low-mercury fish that have been line-caught. Look first for Pacific cod from Alaska, and if Atlantic cod is the only option available, try to purchase line-caught or fish farmed in indoor recirculating tanks.
No. Cod is not a common choking hazard, though bones in fresh fish can present a hazard if not removed. To minimize the risk, be sure to pick out any lingering bones before serving. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment, stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals.
Yes. Finned fish is a common food allergen, and cod is among the most common, along with halibut, salmon and tuna. While it’s estimated that allergy to finned fish impacts less than 1 percent of people in the United States, the allergy is typically lifelong. About 40 percent of people with finned fish allergies don’t experience their first allergic reaction until adulthood.
If you have a family history of seafood allergies or suspect your baby may be allergic to fish, make an appointment with an allergist before introducing cod. As with all common allergens, introduce cod in small amounts and watch closely as your baby eats to see if any adverse reaction occurs. If all goes well, gradually increase the serving size to your baby over time.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience.
To serve fresh cod, first make sure you remove all the bones and that you cook it all the way through. You can offer your baby pieces of the cooked fish about the size of two adult pinky fingers together. This size is a safe amount for your baby to consume but also easier for babies to grab ahold of than small flakes of fish are. If you do opt to flake the fish into other dishes, serving in a bowl that suctions to the table will help with hand-scooping.
This is a great age for cod cakes (see recipe). Just be sure to also serve the fresh fish in flakes as well from time to time so your child doesn’t get hooked on patties and ball-shaped food.
When it comes to fish, cooking a fresh fillet from scratch is the place to start. Don’t be tempted to buy prepared or processed fish cakes as they are likely to be too high in sodium for your little one.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Breadcrumbs - Chickpea flour works as a substitute.
Salt - If you are sharing cod cakes with babies under 12 months of age, omit or reduce the quantity to minimize sodium in the child’s diet.
This recipe contains common allergens: dairy (yogurt), egg, finned fish (cod), and wheat (breadcrumbs). Only serve to a child after these allergens have been safely introduced. Always check for potential allergens in ingredients listed on the labels of store-bought processed foods, such as breadcrumbs. Added ingredients may also include honey, which should not be given to babies younger than 12 months.
Poach the Cod
Place the cod in a non-stick skillet. Add enough water to cover the fish by 1 inch (5 cm).
Wash and halve the lemon. Thinly slice one half and lay the lemon slices in the skillet. Juice the other half and reserve the juice to make the cakes.
Set the skillet on medium-high heat. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until a knife inserted into the thickest part of the cod reveals no translucent flesh, between 5 and 10 minutes depending on thickness. If you like, use a kitchen thermometer to check that the fish’s internal temperature has reached 145 F (63 C).
Use a slotted spoon or sieve to lift the cod from the water to a cutting board. It’s okay if the cod breaks apart. Cool the cod to room temperature.
Drain the skillet, wipe it clean, and return it to the stovetop to cook the cod cakes.
Assemble the Cakes
Flake the cooked cod in the mixing bowl. Big flakes are okay but do check that all bones have been removed.
Finely chop the parsley leaves and tender stems.
Whisk the parsley, reserved lemon juice, eggs, and 2 tbsp (30 ml) of yogurt, then pour into the mixing bowl with the cod.
Add the breadcrumbs, spices, and salt, then mash and mix the ingredients to form a paste.
Set a sheet tray next to the mixing bowl, then proceed with forming the cakes one at a time: scoop a heaping spoonful of batter (about 3 tbsp or 45 ml) and use your hands to form the mixture into a cake at least 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Place the cake on the sheet tray. Repeat until all of the mixture is formed into cakes.
At this point, the cod cakes may be frozen to cook at a future date. See storage instructions. If you plan to cook the cakes right away, proceed with the next steps. If there is time to spare, chill the cakes for 30 minutes. This helps keep them from falling apart when cooking.
Cook the Cakes
Set a tray lined with a paper towel next to the stovetop.
Pour the oil into the skillet and set it on medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, gently lay a couple of cakes in the skillet. Take care to evenly space the cakes so that they are not touching. Cook the cakes in batches to avoid overcrowding.
Cook the cakes until the bottoms are golden, about 4 minutes. Flip the cakes, then cook to brown the other side, about 4 minutes more. Transfer the cakes to the plate lined with the paper towel.
Repeat until all of the cakes are cooked, adding more oil as needed to prevent the cakes from sticking to the skillet.
Serve the Cakes
Offer a cod cake with the remaining yogurt and let the child self-feed.
If help is needed, pass the cod cake in the air for the child to grab from you.
Eat a cod cake alongside the child to model how it’s done.
To Store: Lemony Cod Cakes keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months. When freezing cod cakes, first evenly space them on a sheet tray, and place the tray in the freezer. Once the cakes are fully frozen (about 30 minutes later), transfer them to an airtight container to store in the freezer. This way, the cod cakes do not stick together.
Like most white, flaky fish, cod pairs nicely with avocado, lemon, mango, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, and paprika.
Pediatric registered dietitian & nutritionist
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