Haddock

Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Common Allergen: Yes (
  • Fish
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May cause allergic reactions.

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two haddock fillets before being prepared for babies starting solid food

When can babies eat haddock?

Haddock may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Haddock receives a “satisfactory” rating in our guide, Best & Worst Fish for Babies. Like most fish, haddock contains trace amounts of methylmercury due to air pollution that settles into the ocean and binds to the flesh of fish. Compared to other fish, haddock is relatively low in mercury and considered safe for babies around 1-2 times per week.

What are haddock and where do they live?

Haddock is a large fish that dwells near the ocean floor in the icy waters of the world’s northern seas. Also known as hyse, kolja, scrod, and ýsa, haddock has grey silvery skin and white flesh that tastes similarly mild, but slightly sweeter than cod, a member of the same family. As overfishing has nearly depleted cod populations, haddock has risen in popularity. Haddock is a popular substitute in fish and chips and stockfish, a term for fish dried by cold windy air in places like Iceland, Greenland, and Norway. It is also the fish-of-choice for finnan haddie, a method of curing and smoking haddock with peat, which originated in Scotland and is now enjoyed on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Juliet Rose, 10 months, eats flakes of haddock with paprika.
Amelia, 12 months, eats fresh haddock with lemon for the first time.
Adie, 18 months, eats haddock in the form of fish cakes for the first time.

Is haddock healthy for babies?

Yes. While not the lowest in mercury among the fish in the sea, haddock generally has much less mercury than other popular large white fish, such as halibut or grouper. Haddock also offers lots of protein and omega-3 fatty acids to support growth and healthy cells, and selenium to support immunity. It’s also a good source of vitamins B6 and B12, which are essential for neurological development.1 2 Haddock is a relatively low-fat fish, so add a pat of butter or a healthy oil such as avocado or olive oil to boost fat content, as babies need lots of fat for brain development and growth.

As with most fish, haddock contains small amounts of methylmercury.3 4 5 Mercury is a persistent and progressive toxin to which babies are particularly susceptible.6 Thankfully there are lots of fish low in mercury that babies can enjoy. Furthermore, fish offers nutrients that are particularly important for babies (such as vitamin D and selenium) that can be hard to find in other foods. To minimize exposure to mercury from fish, simply focus on those fish that are lowest in mercury and limit the amount and frequency of fish that have higher amounts of mercury.

Excited to serve finnan haddie? This form of smoked haddock often contains high levels of sodium. If you want to offer this traditional food, consider waiting until baby is at least 12 months, keeping the portion to an ounce (about the size of your thumb), and rinsing the fish under water to reduce sodium levels.7

Lastly, it is a good idea, in general, to check labels on frozen fish packages for additives, and steer clear of products with added salt or sodium tripolyphosphate. It is common for frozen white fish, as well as scallop, shrimp, and prawn, to be processed with sodium-containing preservatives which, even in small amounts, could easily exceed a baby’s daily adequate intake of sodium.8 For more on how much sodium babies can have, see our Sodium page.

Environmental Tip Icon When possible, look for haddock caught in the North Sea and Northeast Arctic, as well as those certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, an international organization with a fishery certification program to promote sustainable practices. While fishing stocks of haddock are currently stable, most haddock are caught with bottom trawls, which damage the sea floor and pick up other, sometimes endangered ocean life as they skim for the fish.

Is haddock a common choking hazard for babies?

No. Haddock is not a common choking hazard, though bones in fresh fish can present a risk 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 and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.

Is haddock a common allergen?

Yes. Finned fish are a common food allergen, and fish in the cod family (like haddock) may be especially allergenic.9 10 It’s estimated that only 0.2 percent of people are allergic to finned fish worldwide, and the prevalence of fish allergies, while variable, is even less than in adults.11 12 13 About 40 percent of people with finned fish allergies don’t experience their first allergic reaction until adulthood.14 Unfortunately, most individuals who are allergic to finned fish do not outgrow the allergy.15

Some individuals with finned fish allergy may react from inhaling airborne proteins that are aerosolized when cooking fish.16 17 If this is the case for your baby, you may wish to avoid cooking fish in the household when baby is present.

Due to the risks of cross-contamination or mislabeling, allergists often recommend that individuals allergic to one species of finned fish avoid all finned fish, regardless of the labeling. This is an individualized recommendation, so be sure to confirm with your allergist before offering other finned fish if baby is allergic to haddock.

If you suspect baby may be allergic to fish, make an appointment with an allergist before introducing haddock. As with all common allergens, introduce haddock in scant amounts and watch closely as baby eats to see if any adverse reaction occurs. If all goes well, gradually increase the serving size over time.

How can haddock affect baby's poop?

Haddock isn’t generally thought of as a food that promotes pooping. That said, it can play an important role in healthy bowel movements as part of a balanced and varied diet. Diets featuring white meats like haddock may promote the presence of beneficial bacteria, like Lactobacillus, which contributes to a healthy and diverse gut microbiome.18 19 Pooping patterns can vary significantly from child to child, so be sure to talk to your pediatric healthcare provider if you have concerns about baby’s pooping or digestive function.

How do you prepare haddock for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 12 months old: Offer baby large pieces of cooked, deboned haddock filet that are about the width and length of two adult pinky fingers next to one another. Keep in mind that baby will likely smush the fish in their hand—this is okay. Alternatively, you can mix cooked, flaked haddock with mashed avocado, extra virgin olive oil, or plain yogurt and offer the haddock mash on a pre-loaded spoon or age-appropriate fork.

12 to 24 months old: If you have the time and inclination, homemade haddock cakes are fun for this age range. Check out our recipe for cod cakes, but use haddock instead. For more advanced eaters, try breaking the fish into flakes then mixing into a grain dish, piling high on buttered toast, or serving plain on a plate with a dollop of mayonnaise or tahini as finger food or fork practice. You can also continue to serve whole pieces or mashed fish as described above.

For a quick, easy-to-reference guide to the foods that deliver the nutrients babies need the most, see our Nutrition Cheat Sheet.

Recipe: Haddock Kedgeree

Yield: 1 ½ cups (450 grams)
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

  • ¼ pound (113 grams) boneless skinless haddock
  • 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup (45 grams) dry Basmati rice
  • ½ cup (120 milliliters) whole milk
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 pinch sweet curry powder (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons (2 grams) minced chives (optional)
  • ¼ cup (57 grams) unsweetened whole milk Greek-style yogurt (optional)
  • 1 large hard-boiled egg per person

This recipe contains common allergens: dairy (milk, butter), finned fish (haddock), and egg. It also contains an optional ingredient that is an allergen: dairy (yogurt). Only serve to a child after these allergens have been safely introduced.

Directions

Poach the Haddock

  1. Defrost frozen fish in the fridge before you plan to cook.
  2. Place the haddock in a skillet. Add enough water to fill the skillet with 1 inch of water.
  3. Wash and halve the lemon. Thinly slice one half and lay the lemon slices on top of the haddock. Juice the other half and reserve the juice to make the kedgeree.
  4. Cover and set the skillet on medium-high heat. Bring the water to a steady simmer.
  5. Cook until the haddock easily flakes and a knife inserted into the thickest part reveals no translucent flesh, between 8 and 12 minutes depending on thickness. If you like, use a thermometer to check that the fish’s internal temperature has reached 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius).
  6. Use a slotted spoon to lift the haddock from the water to a cutting board. It’s okay if the haddock breaks apart. Once it is cool enough to touch, flake the fish. Set aside.

Prepare the Rice

  1. Rinse the rice in a colander until the water runs clear.
  2. Place the rice in a pot with a tight-fitting lid.
  3. Add the remaining milk.
  4. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to create a gentle simmer. Cover and cook until tender, between 15 and 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.
  5. Let the rice rest in the pot with the cover on for 10 minutes, then uncover and fluff the rice. Set aside.

Prepare the Kedgeree

  1. Peel and finely chop the onion.
  2. Warm the butter in a skillet set on medium heat.
  3. When the butter has finished foaming, add the onion and stir to coat. Cook until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the reserved lemon juice, and if you like, stir in the spice for extra flavor. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Stir in the cooked rice and flaked fish. Cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute to let the flavors set.
  6. Remove the skillet from the heat. If you like, stir in the minced chives for extra flavor.

Serve the Kedgeree

  1. Scoop some kedgeree into the child’s bowl. Exact serving size is variable. Let a child’s appetite determine how much is eaten.
  2. For babies and toddlers who are still learning to self-feed, you may decide to stir yogurt into the kedgeree, which binds the rice and fish flakes into a soft texture that is easier to scoop up.
  3. Peel and discard the hard-boiled egg shell, then chop the egg and sprinkle on top of the kedgeree.
  4. Season kedgeree for adults with salt to taste. Let the child’s food cool until it is warm, but not hot.
  5. Serve the kedgeree and let the child try to self-feed. To encourage utensil use, simply preload a spoon and rest it next to the food for the child to try to pick up. Alternatively, pass the preloaded spoon in the air for the child to grab from you.

To Store: Haddock Kedgeree keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3 days.

Flavor Pairings

Haddock pairs well with artichoke, green beans, lemon, potatoes, rice, and rye.

Reviewed by

E. Cerda, MSN, CNS, LDN

A. Gilbaugh, RD, CNSC

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT

S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)

R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist

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  2. Karimi, R.   et al., 2012. “A Quantitative Synthesis of Mercury in Commercial Seafood and Implications for Exposure in the United States”, Environmental Health Perspectives, 120, 11, 1512-1519. Retrieved December 17, 2021.
  3. United States Food and Drug Administration. (2017, Oct. 25). Mercury levels in commercial fish and shellfish (1990-2012). Retrieved February 2, 2020
  4. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Basic Information about Mercury. Retrieved September 2, 2020
  5. Harvard T.F. Chan School of Public Health. Fish: Friend or Foe? Retrieved September 1, 2020
  6. Rice, K., Walker, E., Wu, M., Gillette, C., Blough, E. (2014). Environmental mercury and its toxic effects. Journal of Preventative Medicine and Public Health, 47(2): 74-83. DOI:10.3961/jpmph.2014.47.2.74. Retrieved September 1, 2020
  7. Vermeulen RT, Sedor FA, Kimm SY. Effect of water rinsing on sodium content of selected foods. J Am Diet Assoc. 1983;82(4):394-396. Retrieved December 17, 2021
  8. Orban E, Nevigato T, Lena GD, Masci M, Casini I, Gambelli L, Caproni R. New trends in the seafood market. Sutchi catfish (Pangasius hypophthalmus) fillets from Vietnam: Nutritional quality and safety aspects. Food Chem. 2008 Sep 15;110(2):383-9. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2008.02.014. Retrieved December 17, 2021.
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  10. Buyuktiryaki B, Masini M, Mori F, et al. IgE-Mediated Fish Allergy in Children. Medicina (Kaunas). 2021;57(1):76. Published 2021 Jan 18. doi:10.3390/medicina57010076
  11. Tong WS, Yuen AW, Wai CY, Leung NY, Chu KH, Leung PS. Diagnosis of fish and shellfish allergies. J Asthma Allergy. 2018;11:247-60
  12. Tsabouri, S., Triga, M., Makris, M., Kalogeromitros, D., Church, M. K., & Priftis, K. N. (2012). Fish and shellfish allergy in children: Review of a persistent food allergy. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, 23(7), 608–615. doi:10.1111/j.1399-3038.2012.01275.x
  13. Moonesinghe H, Mackenzie H, Venter C, et al. (2016). Prevalence of fish and shellfish allergy: A systematic reviewAnn Allergy Asthma Immunol, 117(3):264-272.e4. doi:10.1016/j.anai.2016.07.015. Retrieved January 11, 2022
  14. Food Allergy Research & Education. Fish Allergy. Retrieved September 1, 2020
  15. Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team. Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis – Fish. Retrieved January 6, 2020
  16. Crespo J.F., Pascual C., Vallecillo A., Esteban M.M. (1995). Sensitization to inhalant allergens in children diagnosed with food hypersensitivity. Allergy Proc, 16:89–92. DOI: 10.2500/108854195778771381. Retrieved September 30, 2021
  17. James J.M., Crespo J.F. (2007). Allergic reactions to foods by inhalation. Curr. Allergy Asthma Rep, 7:167–174. DOI: 10.1007/s11882-007-0017-z. Retrieved September 30, 2021
  18. Zhu, Y., Lin, X., Zhao, F. et al. Meat, dairy and plant proteins alter bacterial composition of rat gut bacteriaSci Rep 5, 15220 (2015). DOI: 10.1038/srep15220. Retrieved January 4, 2022
  19. Azad, M., Sarker, M., Li, T., & Yin, J. (2018). Probiotic Species in the Modulation of Gut Microbiota: An Overview. BioMed research international, 2018, 9478630. DOI: 10.1155/2018/9478630