When can babies eat cod fish?
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).
Is cod healthy for babies?
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.1
Is cod a common choking hazard for babies?
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.
Is cod a common allergen?
Yes. Finned fish is a common food allergen, and cod is among the most common, along with halibut, salmon and tuna. 2 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.3 4 About 40 percent of people with finned fish allergies don’t experience their first allergic reaction until adulthood. 5
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.
How to prepare cod for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience. Your child is an individual and may have needs or considerations beyond generally accepted practices. In determining the recommendations for size and shape of foods, we use the best available scientific information regarding gross, fine, and oral motor development to minimize choking risk. The preparation suggestions we offer are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for child-specific, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional or provider. It is impossible to fully eliminate all risk of a baby or child choking on any liquid, puree, or food. We advise you to follow all safety protocols we suggest to create a safe eating environment and to make educated choices for your child regarding their specific needs. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 12 months old: 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.
12 to 24 months old: 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.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
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.
Recipe: Lemony Cod Cakes
- Cod Fillet
- Onion or Shallot
- Unsalted Butter or Olive Oil
- Panko Breadcrumbs
- Coconut or avocado oil
- Place the fillet in about an inch of water in a non-stick skillet. Place a couple lemon slices on top of the fillet, and cover the pan with a lid. Simmer for a few minutes, until the fish is fully cooked. Lift the fillet out of the water and set it aside on a cutting board.
- While the cod is poaching, finely dice 1 small onion or medium-sized shallot and 1 celery stalk. Place the onion and celery along with 1 tablespoon of butter or oil in a skillet over medium heat, and sauté until the onions are translucent. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- Lightly beat two eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add a spoonful of mayonnaise, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a hearty sprinkle of paprika. Stir in the sautéed onions and celery (reserve the skillet to cook the patties). Add the cooked fish, and mix well until the fish flakes apart.
- Scoop up a small handful of the mix, form it into a small patty, and place on a large plate. Continue until all of the mix is formed into patties. Place 1 to 2 cups of Panko breadcrumbs on a separate plate, and roll each patty in the crumbs until they’re evenly coated.
- Add a generous pour of coconut oil to the skillet and reheat it over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until a small drop of water sizzles in it. Gently set a couple patties in the pan (don’t overcrowd the pan) and cook for a few minutes, until its lightly browned. Flip and cook for a few minutes more. Lift the patties out and cool on a paper towel-lined plate while you cook the remaining patties. Serve at room temperature on top of mayonnaise.
Note: this recipe contains a number of potentially allergenic foods. Only serve it after wheat and eggs have been safely introduced.
Like most white, flaky fish, cod pairs nicely with avocado, lemon, mango, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, and paprika.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Cod Recommendations. Retrieved October 21, 2019 (website)
- Food Allergy Research & Education. Fish Allergy: Video. Retrieved September 1, 2020 from: https://www.foodallergy.org/living-food-allergies/food-allergy-essentials/common-allergens/fish
- Sicherer, S. H., Muñoz-Furlong, A., & Sampson, H. A. (2004). Prevalence of seafood allergy in the United States determined by a random telephone survey. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 114(1), 159–165. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2004.04.018. Retrieved September 1, 2020 from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15241360/
- Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team. Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis – Fish. Retrieved September 1, 2020 from: https://www.foodallergyawareness.org/food-allergy-and-anaphylaxis/food-allergens/fish/
- Food Allergy Research & Education. Fish Allergy. Retrieved September 1, 2020 from: https://www.foodallergy.org/living-food-allergies/food-allergy-essentials/common-allergens/fish