When can babies eat pollock?
Pollock may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Pollock receives a “satisfactory” rating in our guide, Best & Worst Fish for Babies. Like most fish, pollock 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, pollock is relatively low in mercury and considered safe for babies 1-2 times per week.
What is pollock and where does it come from?
Pollock is the common name for two species of white fish that swim in the rocky shoals and deep seawaters in the northern regions of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Depending on the species and location, pollock goes by different names, including coalfish, coley, slaithe, and blue snapper or blue cod. That last name hints at pollock’s texture: pollock belong to the same family of fish as cod and can often be used in its place in cooking, but unlike cod, the world’s pollock populations are currently robust enough to support commercial fishing.
Is pollock healthy for babies?
Yes. Pollock is relatively low in mercury and is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and lean protein, plus it’s packed with vitamin B3, B6, B12 and selenium—nutrients that enrich a baby’s growth and support the brain, as well as nervous and immune systems. Pollock is a relatively low-fat fish, so feel free to 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 seafood, pollock contains trace amounts of methylmercury, a form of mercury present in most fish from polluted waters. Mercury is a persistent and progressive toxin to which babies are particularly susceptible.1 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.
★Tip: Store-bought fish products made with pollock and other white fish are often too high in sodium for babies and toddlers. Hold off on offering these store-bought pollock products, make your own fish sticks at home, or read the labels and opt for brands with lower sodium. See our Sodium FAQs to learn more.
Is pollock a common choking hazard for babies?
No. Pollock 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 pollock a common allergen?
Yes, finned fish are a common food allergen. It’s estimated that only 0.2 percent of people are allergic to finned fish worldwide, and the prevalence of fish allergies in children, while variable, is even less than in adults.2 3 About 40 percent of people with finned fish allergies don’t experience their first allergic reaction until adulthood.4 Unfortunately, most individuals who are allergic to finned fish do not outgrow the allergy.5
Some individuals with finned fish allergy may react from inhaling airborne proteins that are aerosolized when cooking fish.6 7 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 pollock.
If you suspect baby may be allergic to fish, make an appointment with an allergist before introducing pollock. As with all common allergens, introduce pollock 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.
Can pollock help baby poop?
Pollock 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 sole may promote the presence of beneficial bacteria, like Lactobacillus, which contributes to a healthy and diverse gut microbiome.8 9 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 pollock 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: Offer baby large pieces of the cooked and deboned fish 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 the cooked fish with mashed avocado, extra virgin olive oil, or plain yogurt and offer the pollock mash on a pre-loaded spoon or serve atop thin rice cakes or teething rusks.
12 to 24 months old: At this age, you may offer almost any form of cooked, deboned pollock: strips of fillet, fish cakes, toast topped with flaked pollock, among others. For more advanced eaters, try breaking cooked and deboned pollock into bite-sized pieces for utensil practice. If the toddler gets frustrated, you can preload a fork with some of the pollock and offer the utensil in the air for them to grab.
For a quick, easy-to-reference guide on the foods that deliver the nutrients babies need the most, see our Nutrition Cheat Sheet.
What are recipe ideas for cooking with pollock?
You may have eaten pollock and not even known it. Pollock is commonly used to make many processed fish products, like fish balls, fish fingers, fish sticks, and more. Even some brands of imitation crab meat, sometimes known as surimi, are made of pollock. This popularity is thanks to pollock’s mild flavor and delicate, flaky texture, which make it easy to cook at home too. Store-bought fish sticks are often too high in sodium for babies and toddlers, but try your hand at making your own with our Homemade Fish Sticks recipe. Or try pan frying whole, deboned fillets in a skillet with garlic and butter and serving with peas, or baking breaded pollock fillets coated with breadcrumbs and your favorite savory spice.
Recipe: Homemade Fish Sticks for Babies
Yield: 8-10 fish sticks
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Age: 6 months+
- 1 pound (454 grams) boneless skinless pollock, haddock, or flaky white fish
- 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) avocado oil, sunflower oil, or neutral cooking oil of choice
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup (60 grams) all-purpose flour or chickpea flour
- ½ teaspoon (1 gram) sweet paprika
- 1 cup (90 grams) panko breadcrumbs (low-sodium, if possible)
- ½ cup (114 grams) unsweetened whole milk Greek-style yogurt or fortified plant-based yogurt of choice (optional)
This recipe contains common allergens: egg, finned fish (pollock), and wheat (flour, panko breadcrumbs). It also contains an optional ingredient that is a common allergen: dairy (yogurt). Only serve to a child after these allergens have been safely introduced.
- Defrost the fish in the fridge before you plan to cook.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees Celsius).
- Grease a sheet tray with the oil. Set aside.
- Cut the fish into sticks about the size of two adult fingers pressed together. Set aside.
- Set up a prep station: a bowl with the eggs (whisked to combine the yolks and whites), a bowl with the flour and paprika (whisked to combine), and a bowl with the breadcrumbs.
- Working with one piece at a time, dredge the fish sticks in the flour, then the egg, and then the breadcrumbs.
- Evenly space the fish sticks on the sheet tray.
- Bake the fish sticks for 10 minutes, then flip the fish sticks and bake for 10 minutes more. Remove the tray from the oven. Cool to room temperature.
- Offer 1 or 2 fish sticks and let baby try to self-feed. If you like, serve the fish sticks with the yogurt. If baby needs help picking up the fish, offer a fish stick vertically in the air for them to grab, or show how to dip it in the yogurt.
To Store: Fish Sticks for Babies keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for 2 days or the freezer for 2 months.
To reheat, defrost frozen fish sticks in the fridge before you plan to serve the meal, then reheat the defrosted fish sticks in a warm oven. Cool to room temperature before serving to the child.
Like most white, flaky fish, pollock pairs nicely with strong flavors like garlic, lemon, lime, fennel, olives, onions, paprika, and tomato; crunchy textures like breadcrumbs and ground nuts; and smooth ones like avocado and potato.
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
- 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.
- Tong WS, Yuen AW, Wai CY, Leung NY, Chu KH, Leung PS. (2018). Diagnosis of fish and shellfish allergies. J Asthma Allergy, 11, 247-60. Retrieved October 5, 2021.
- 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. Retrieved October 5, 2021.
- Food Allergy Research & Education. Fish Allergy. Retrieved September 1, 2020
- Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team. Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis – Fish. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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