Sole

Food Type:
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.

Jump to Recipe ↓
a whole raw fillet of sole ready to be prepared for babies starting solids

When can babies eat sole?

Sole may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Sole receives a “satisfactory” rating in our guide, Best & Worst Fish for Babies. Like most fish, sole 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, sole is relatively low in mercury and considered safe for babies around 1-2 times per week.

What is sole and where does it live?

Sole is the common name for a group of bottom-dwellers called flatfish. There are numerous species of sole thriving near the muddy or sandy floors of fresh and saltwater shores around the world. The group’s biodiversity and geographic reach has resulted in many names for sole: lenguado, nangu, seezunge, and shitabriame, to name a few. Sometimes, these names can be confusing when a name describes fish from different families, such as Dover sole, a beloved species in European waters that comes from an entirely different fish family than the Dover sole of the Pacific Ocean.

Cooper, 11 months, eats strips of cooked, deboned sole.
Amelia, 11 months, eats cooked, deboned sole.

Is sole healthy for babies?

Yes. While not the lowest in mercury among the fish in the sea, sole generally has much less mercury than other popular white fish, like halibut or grouper. Sole is high in protein and a good source of vitamins B6 and B12, which are important for cardiovascular and neurological health. Sole also contains healthy fats and vitamin D, nutrients to fuel brain development and immune function. Sole and other flatfish like flounder, turbot, and plaice are relatively low in fat, 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, sole 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.

★Tip: 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 surpass a baby’s daily adequate intake of sodium.5 For more on how much sodium babies can have, see our Sodium page.

Is sole a common choking hazard for babies?

No. Sole 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 sole a common allergen?

Yes. Finned fish like sole are a common food allergen.6 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.7 8 9 About 40 percent of people with finned fish allergies don’t experience their first allergic reaction until adulthood.10 Unfortunately, most individuals who are allergic to finned fish do not outgrow the allergy.11

Some individuals with finned fish allergy may react from inhaling airborne proteins that are aerosolized when cooking fish.12 13 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 sole.

If you suspect baby may be allergic to fish, make an appointment with an allergist before introducing sole. As with all common allergens, introduce sole 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 sole help babies poop?

Sole 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.14 15 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 sole for babies with baby-led weaning?

an infographic with the header "how to cut fish for babies": a thin deboned filet for babies 6 months+, bite-sized pieces for babies 9 months+, small flakes and pieces with a fork for toddlers 12 months+

6 to 12 months old: Cut pieces of cooked, deboned sole into strips about the width and length of two adult pinky fingers pressed together. Serve as finger food plain, or 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 sole 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: For more advanced eaters, break cooked, deboned sole into flakes and pile them high on buttered toast, or serve them plain on a plate with a dollop of mayonnaise or tahini as finger food or fork practice. 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. Sole works well as a substitute for cod in most recipes.

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 sole?

There are differences in flavor and texture from one species to another, but most sole share common traits. Like flounder and plaice, sole have firm, white, flaky flesh that can be prepared in many different ways: baked, boiled, deep-fried, pan-fried, and preserved by drying, fermenting, salting, and fermenting. Get inspiration from classic dishes like sole meunière, a famous pan-fried preparation of sole with butter, lemon, and parsley.

Recipe: Sole with Lemon Butter

Yield: 1/3 cup (100 grams)
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces (113 grams) boneless sole (or another white flaky flatfish like flounder or plaice)
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) lemon juice
  • 1 fresh parsley sprig (optional)

This recipe contains common allergens: dairy (butter) and finned fish (sole). Only serve to a child after these allergens have been safely introduced.

Directions

  1. Defrost frozen fish in the fridge before you plan to cook.
  2. Warm the butter in a small skillet set on medium-high heat.
  3. When the butter is done foaming, add the fish.
  4. Cover and cook for 6 minutes, occasionally uncovering the skillet so that you can spoon the hot butter on top of the fish.
  5. 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).
  6. Transfer the fish to a cutting board. Drizzle with the reserved lemon juice.
  7. If you’d like to serve the fish with parsley, wash and dry the herb sprig, pick the leaves from the stem, and finely chop the leaves. Sprinkle the leaves over the fish. Discard the stem.
  8. Set aside 1 ounce of the cooked sole (about the size of an adult thumb) for baby’s meal. Keep baby’s fish 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!
  9. Serve the sole and let baby self-feed. If baby needs help picking up the fish, pass a piece in the air for them to grab.

To Store: Sole with Lemon Butter keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3 days.

Flavor Pairings

Like most white, flaky fish, sole pairs nicely with butter, lemon, mushroom, rice, spinach, and tomato.

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

  1. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish (1990-2012). Retrieved September 1, 2020
  2. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Basic Information about Mercury. Retrieved September 2, 2020
  3. Harvard T.F. Chan School of Public Health. Fish: Friend or Foe? Retrieved September 1, 2020
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. Food Allergy Research & Education. Fish allergy. Retrieved January 27, 2020
  7. 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
  8. 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 January 11, 2022.
  9. 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
  10. Food Allergy Research & Education. Fish Allergy. Retrieved September 1, 2020
  11. Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team. Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis – Fish. Retrieved January 6, 2020
  12. Crespo J.F., Pascual C., Vallecillo A., Esteban M.M. (1995). Sensitization to inhalant allergens in children diagnosed with food hypersensitivityAllergy Proc, 16:89–92. DOI: 10.2500/108854195778771381. Retrieved September 30, 2021
  13. James J.M., Crespo J.F. (2007). Allergic reactions to foods by inhalationCurr. Allergy Asthma Rep, 7:167–174. DOI: 10.1007/s11882-007-0017-z. Retrieved September 30, 2021
  14. 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
  15. 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