Squid

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 (
  • Shellfish & Arthropods
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May cause allergic reactions.

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two raw squid mantles before being prepared for babies starting solids

When can babies eat squid?

Squid may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Like its fellow mollusks in the shellfish family, squid is a common food allergen and choking hazard, so read on for how to introduce it safely. Lastly, never serve raw squid to a baby.

Our world is home to several hundred squid species that live in a diverse range of habitats, from coral reefs and tidal pools to deep ocean waters. Some are tiny and abundant—like firefly squid, whose bioluminescence illuminate Japanese waters during spawning season. Others loom large in folklore, like the elusive giant squid Architeuthis, who has inspired art, literature, and tall tales from fishermen for generations. Like its fellow cephalopod, the octopus, squid is a highly intelligent sea creature with exceptional eyesight, a complex nervous system, and impressive defense skills that include changing color and blasting murky ink to elude predators. They are also prized foods in many parts of the world. With the exception of its beak, a squid’s entire body is edible, including its ink, which is often used as a food coloring.

★Tip: Did you know that calamari is simply squid? The word evolved from the Italian and Spanish names for the cephalopod. Today calamari functions as a culinary term to describe various preparations, including the ubiquitous battered-and-fried appetizer at seafood joints.

Callie, 11 months, eats bite-size pieces of cooked squid.
Callie, 11 months, works on a whole squid mantle. Offering a whole mantle won’t net much food in the belly and is primarily for biting and tearing practice.
Adie, 21 months, tastes calamari for the first time.

Is squid healthy for babies?

Yes. Squid is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids for healthy eye and brain development and selenium for a robust immune system. Like most seafood, squid is also an incredible source of protein to support a baby’s growth.

Due to its short life span, squid has less exposure to toxins from pollution in ocean waters than other fish with longer life spans, like tuna. In fact, squid is considered a “best choice” for low mercury seafood by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency.1

When shopping for squid, choose fresh or frozen squid instead of canned squid when possible to avoid BPA. Bisphenol A (or BPA, as it is commonly called) is a chemical used to line the interior of cans and plastic bottles that can disrupt a baby’s bodily functions. While many brands include a “BPA-free” label on other food products, cans of squid often do not specify, so it would be wise to err on the side of caution by purchasing fresh or frozen squid.

If canned seafood is your best option, watch the salt. Many canned products—from vegetables to fish to meats—often have high levels of sodium. Squid packed in olive oil or water is generally a less salty option than squid seasoned with sauces and flavorings.

Hold off on serving preserved squid that has been dried, fermented, marinated, or pickled. While it is delicious, preserved seafood often contains added sodium, sugar and other preservatives not appropriate for babies. Also avoid squid cured in its ink, whose antimicrobial properties extend the seafood’s shelf life. Melanin, a building block used to build proteins, and metals such as cadmium, copper, and lead are both present in squid ink in high quantities, making this delicacy a treat best enjoyed by adults and older children on special occasions.2

Finally, when possible, consider where and how fish and shellfish are caught, as some aquatic populations and habitats are suffering from mismanaged commercial fishing. A respected go-to resource, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch offers recommendations for the best choices for sustainability, with squid caught in the U.S. at the top of the list.3

Is squid a common choking hazard for babies?

Yes. Cooked squid is firm and, when not cooked just right, rubbery in texture—two qualities that can be tough for young eaters. To minimize the risk, mince squid into other foods or offer the whole mantle and let baby munch and suck on a large section, taking pieces away as needed. As always, make sure to create a safe eating environment, to stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals, and to check out our age-appropriate serving suggestions below.

For more information, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with common choking hazards.

Is squid a common allergen?

Yes. Squid is a type of shellfish, and shellfish is one of the most common food allergens.4

If there is a strong family history of seafood allergies, or if you suspect your baby may be allergic to shellfish, consult an allergist before introducing squid. Shellfish allergy commonly develops in adulthood, but for those who develop it in childhood, most will not outgrow it.5 Individuals with allergies to mollusks (abalone, clams, mussels, oyster, scallops, snail, and squid) are more likely to react to other shellfish in the mollusk family and, to a lesser degree, crustaceans like crab, lobster, prawn, and shrimp.6 7

As you would do with all new allergens, introduce squid by serving a scant quantity and watch closely. If there is no adverse reaction during the first few servings, gradually increase the amount over future meals.

★Tip: A shellfish allergy doesn’t mean that a child is automatically allergic to finned fish, as the two allergies are not closely related.8 However, shellfish are often prepared in the same kitchens as finned fish, so be cautious when consuming food outside of your home.

How to cut squid for babies with baby-led weaning?

infographic showing how to cut squid for babies by age. Large section of squid mantle for 6-9 months. Bite-sized pieces of cooked squid mantle as well as large section of squid mantle for 9-18 months. Calamari rings for 18 months and up.

6 to 9 months old: Offer large sections or thin strips of cooked squid mantles or fold minced squid into other foods that babies can scoop with their hands or practice eating with utensils. Keep in mind that unless squid is minced and mixed into other food, a baby is not likely to ingest much—but munching on cooked squid mantle or calamari rings offers opportunities to practice biting, tearing, and chewing.

9 to 18 months old: Serve bite-sized pieces of cooked squid once a baby has developed a pincer grasp. Continue to offer large sections of cooked squid mantle to encourage biting and tearing practice, coaching your child to spit out any pieces that are too big.

18 months and up: Calamari time! At this age your toddler may be able to tackle calamari rings (and actually be able to bite, tear and chew them!) As always, watch closely and stay within an arm’s reach as calamari can be challenging to chew.

a hand with a large section of a squid mantle about the size of 3 adult fingers long
A piece of a squid mantle for a 6 month old baby.
a hand with a few pieces of chopped squid about 1 to 2 centimeters wide
Bite-size pieces of cooked squid for babies 9 months+

For more information on how to cut food for your baby’s age, hop over to our section on Food Sizes & Shapes.

★ Tip: Fresh squid has a short shelf life in the fridge—only 1 day from purchase. Frozen squid is an affordable, easy-to-find, and convenient alternative. They can be found in many grocery stores and online retailers—either whole or pre-cut.

Recipe: Lemony Squid Mantles

Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 2 cups (2 adult-sized or 4 child-sized servings)
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen cleaned squid mantle or pre-cut rings
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt or unsweetened whole milk yogurt (optional)

Directions

  1. Defrost the squid. If you’d like to serve the mantle whole, leave intact. If you’d like to do calamari style rings, cut into 1-inch rings.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  3. While the water is warming, peel the garlic. Slice the clove in half.
  4. Heat the oil in a skillet set on medium heat. When it shimmers, add the garlic and stir to coat. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and starting to brown, about 1 minute. Remove and discard the garlic. Turn off the heat. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into the pan, taking care to remove any seeds that fall into the garlicky oil.
  5. Add the squid mantles and/or rings to the boiling water. Cook until curled and completely white with no translucent flesh, about 3 minutes for mantles and 2 minutes for rings. Transfer to the skillet with the garlicky oil. Stir to coat.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool to room temperature before serving.
  7. Serve: Scoop the yogurt into a bowl if you like, then top with some squid. Exact serving size is variable. Let your child’s appetite determine how much is eaten. Serve as finger food and let baby self-feed by scooping with hands and trying to pick up and munch on the food. If baby needs help, pass a mantle in the air for baby to grab.

To Store

Cooked squid keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge for 1 day.

Flavor Pairings

Squid has a very mild flavor with just a hint of salty sweetness and nuttiness. Its versatile flavor pairs well with all sorts of fruits and vegetables, from bright and grassy asparagusbell pepper, and garden pea; to tart and sweet pineappletamarind, and tomato; to rich and creamy avocadocannellini bean, and sweet potato. Squid soaks up seasoning, so try adding garlic, ginger, lemongrass, or a pinch of your favorite spice (cumin, pepper, saffron, or star anise are delicious) as you cook. Top with fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, mint, or parsley and a squirt of citrus like calamansi, lemonlimeorange, or yuzu to add even more flavor!

Reviewed by

Kary Rappaport, OTR/L, MS, SCFES, IBCLC

Andrea Gilbaugh, RD, CNSC

Kimberly Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT

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

Rachel Ruiz, MD Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist

Emily Cerda, MSN, CNS, LDN

 

  1. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Advice about Eating Fish. Retrieved January 19, 2021
  2. Derby, C.D. (2014). Cephalopod ink: production, chemistry, functions and applications. Marine drugs, 12(5), 2700–2730. Retrieved February 2, 2021
  3. Monterey Bay Aquarium. Seafood Watch: Squid. Retrieved January 5, 2021
  4. Food Allergy Research & Education. Shellfish Allergy. Retrieved January 4, 2021
  5. Food Allergy Research & Education. Shellfish Allergy. Retrieved January 4, 2021
  6. Lopata, A.L., O’Hehir, R.E., Lehrer, S.B. (2010). Shellfish allergy. Clinical and Experimental Allergy, 40(6):850-858. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2222.2010.03513.x. Retrieved January 4, 2021
  7. Food Allergy Research & Education. Shellfish Allergy. Retrieved January 4, 2021
  8. Food Allergy Research & Education. Shellfish Allergy. Retrieved January 4, 2021