When can babies eat plaice?
Plaice may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Plaice receives a “satisfactory” rating in our guide, Best & Worst Fish for Babies. Like most fish, plaice 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, plaice is relatively low in mercury and considered safe for babies around 1-2 times per week.
Where do plaice live?
Plaice is the common name for a group of bottom-dweller fishes in Europe, North America, and North Asia. The group’s geographic reach has resulted in many names: akagarei, kurokarei, rødspætte, scholle, spätta, and skarkoli to name a few. Like flounder and sole, plaice is a part of the flatfish family and moves its pancake-shaped body parallel to the sea floor. It has camouflaged skin that mirrors the ocean on the side facing the water’s surface and reflects the sand on the side facing the earth. The two-tone hue is not its only peculiar quality: plaice hatches with one eye on each side of its body, and as the fish matures, one eye moves to the other side.
Is plaice healthy for babies?
Yes. While not the lowest in mercury among the fish in the sea, plaice generally has much less mercury than other popular white fish, like halibut or grouper. Plaice is a complete source of protein and a good source of vitamins B6 and B12, which are important for cardiovascular and neurological health. Plaice also contains healthy fats and vitamin D, nutrients to fuel brain development and immune function. Plaice is a relatively low-fat fish, so feel free to add a pat of butter or a healthy oil such as avocado, coconut or olive oil to boost fat content, as babies need lots of fat for brain development and growth.
As with most fish, plaice contains small amounts of the heavy metal mercury.1 2 3 Mercury is a persistent and progressive toxin to which babies are particularly susceptible.4 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. More on this topic in our guide, Best & Worst Fish for Babies.
Is plaice a common choking hazard for babies?
No. Plaice is not a common choking hazard, though bones in fresh fish are 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 plaice a common allergen?
Yes, finned fish are a common food allergen.5 It’s estimated that only 0.2 percent of people are allergic to finned fish worldwide, but the prevalence of fish allergies in children, while variable, is even less than in adults.6 7 8 About 40 percent of people with finned fish allergies don’t experience their first allergic reaction until adulthood.9 Unfortunately, most individuals who are allergic to finned fish do not outgrow the allergy.10
Some individuals with finned fish allergy may react from inhaling airborne proteins that are aerosolized when cooking fish.11 12 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 your baby is allergic to plaice.
If you suspect baby may be allergic to fish, make an appointment with an allergist before introducing plaice. As with all common allergens, introduce plaice in small 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.
Can plaice help babies poop?
Plaice 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 varied diet. Diets featuring white meats like plaice may promote the presence of beneficial bacteria, like Lactobacillus, which contributes to a healthy and diverse gut microbiome.13 14 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 plaice 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: Cut pieces of cooked, deboned plaice into strips about the width and length of two adult pinky fingers next to one another and serve as finger food with a sauce like lemon butter, garlicky olive oil, or a mild salsa verde. Keep in mind that baby will likely smush the fish in their hand—this is okay. You can also mix cooked plaice into mashed vegetables or plain yogurt and let baby self-feed. Alternatively, pre-load a spoon or age-appropriate fork with the mash and let baby try to pick it up or grab it from you.
12 to 24 months old: Break cooked, deboned plaice into flakes and serve them plain on a plate with a dollop of mayonnaise or tahini as finger food or fork practice, or incorporate them into a dish. You can also continue to serve whole strips or mashed fish as described above. If you have the time and inclination, try homemade fish cakes by adapting our cod cakes recipe. Plaice works well as a substitute for cod in most recipes.
For more information, see the Solid Starts Fish guide—the world’s only guide to seafood for babies and toddlers under age 2.
What are recipe ideas for cooking with plaice?
Plaice can be prepared in many different ways: baked, boiled, deep-fried, pan-fried, and preserved by drying, fermenting, and salting. Along with cod and haddock, plaice is commonly battered and fried with potatoes to make the popular “fish and chips” dish of the United Kingdom that is enjoyed around the world. Like other white fish, its mild flavor complements the brightness of lemon and fresh, vegetable flavors—like peas.
Recipe: Plaice with Lemony Garden Peas
Yield: 1 cup (200 grams)
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Age: 6 months+
- 4 ounce (113 grams) boneless plaice, flounder, sole, or white flaky flatfish
- ½ small lemon
- 1 ½ tablespoons (22 milliliters) olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons (22 grams) unsalted butter
- ½ cup (73 grams) garden peas
- 1 pinch ground white pepper (optional)
This recipe contains common allergens: dairy (butter) and finned fish (plaice). Only serve to a child after these allergens have been safely introduced.
- Defrost frozen fish in the fridge before you plan to cook.
- Wash, dry, zest, and juice the lemon. Set aside.
- Cut the fish into strips about the width of two adult pinky fingers pressed together. If the fish has skin, keep it on. The skin helps keep the fish together while cooking and it can be removed before serving to baby.
- Warm 1 tablespoon (15 millimeters) of oil and 1 tablespoon (14 grams) of butter in a skillet set on medium-high heat. When the butter is done foaming, add the fish strips, with the skin-side facing down.
- Cover and cook for 6 minutes, occasionally uncovering the skillet so that you can spoon the hot butter-oil on the tops of the fish strips. The fish is done when a knife inserted into the thickest part reveals no translucent flesh. If you like, use a thermometer to check that the fish’s internal temperature has reached 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius).
- Transfer the fish strip to a cutting board. Drizzle with the reserved lemon juice.
- Set aside 1 ounce of the cooked plaice (about the size of an adult thumb) for baby’s meal and remove any fish skin. Keep baby’s fish strip whole or break it into flakes, depending on baby’s eating skills. Store the rest of the fish for future meals – or snack on it as baby eats!
- Next, prepare the garden peas. First wash and dry the garden peas, and if they are frozen, wash them with hot water.
- Warm the remaining oil and butter in a skillet set on medium heat. When the butter is done foaming, add the garden peas. Stir to coat in the hot butter-oil.
- Cover the skillet and cook until the peas are bright green and soft, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the lemon zest. If you like, add the white pepper for extra flavor.
- Use a fork to mash the lemony garden peas.
- Let the plaice and lemony garden peas cool until warm, not hot.
- Serve the plaice and lemony garden peas and let baby try to self-feed. To encourage utensil use, preload a spoon or an age-appropriate fork and rest the utensil next to the food for the child to pick up. Alternatively, pass the preloaded utensil in the air for baby to grab.
To Store: Cooked Plaice and Lemony Garden Peas keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3 days.
E. Cerda, MS, 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
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish (1990-2012). Retrieved May 17, 2022
- United States Environmental Protection Agency. Basic Information about Mercury. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
- Harvard T.F. Chan School of Public Health. Fish: Friend or Foe? Retrieved May 17, 2022.
- 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
- Food Allergy Research & Education. Fish allergy. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
- 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
- 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
- Moonesinghe H, Mackenzie H, Venter C, et al. (2016). Prevalence of fish and shellfish allergy: A systematic review. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol, 117(3):264-272.e4. doi:10.1016/j.anai.2016.07.015. Retrieved January 11, 2022
- Food Allergy Research & Education. Fish Allergy. Retrieved May 17, 2022
- Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team. Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis – Fish. Retrieved January 6, 2022
- 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 May 17, 2022
- 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 May 17, 2022
- Zhu, Y., Lin, X., Zhao, F. et al. Meat, dairy and plant proteins alter bacterial composition of rat gut bacteria. Sci Rep 5, 15220 (2015). DOI: 10.1038/srep15220. Retrieved January 4, 2022
- 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. Retrieved January 4, 2022