Trout

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.

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two fillets of red-fleshed trout ready to be prepared for babies starting solids

When can babies eat trout?

Trout may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Steelhead trout and farmed rainbow trout are rated as a “best choice” in our guide, Best & Worst Fish for Babies. Compared to other fish, these trout are low in mercury and considered safe for babies 2-3 times per week.1 2 Avoid lake trout, which can be considerably high in mercury.3

Hold off on serving smoked trout until after baby’s first birthday, as it often contains sodium levels in excess of what babies need. Pickled trout is often made from raw trout and is best avoided until a child is older due to the increased risk of foodborne illness associated with the consumption of raw fish.

Where do trout live?

Inhabiting cool waters of lakes, rivers, and coastal zones are brookies, cutthroats, namaycush, steelheads, and many other species of trout—a sprawling group of oily finned fish within the same family as char and salmon. Typically smaller than deep-water ocean fish, trout protect themselves from predators with camouflaged skin, some with speckled backs and silver bellies, and others striped with colorful streaks in any hue of the rainbow. Some trout are truly wild, while others come from farms, which not only raise fish for sale to consumers, but to replenish overfished waters.

Leo Tov, 8 months, eats rainbow trout.
Cooper, 11 months, eats trout.
Callie, 13 months, eats trout with rice.

Is trout healthy for babies?

Yes, if fresh or frozen. This fish is a great source of vitamin B12, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are important in supporting baby’s brain development. Trout also contains vitamin D, which supports the growth of healthy bones and cells, and selenium for a healthy immune system. These nutrients are particularly important for babies and can be hard to obtain from other foods.

Due to pollution in our waters, all fish, including trout, contain variable amounts of mercury. Mercury is a persistent and progressive toxin to which babies are particularly susceptible.4 Thankfully there are lots of fish that are low in mercury that babies can enjoy, including steelhead and farmed rainbow trout. It is also wise to check your local fish advisories for trout that is caught by friends or family, as the risk of mercury contamination can vary by body of water.5 6 7 8 Ultimately, to minimize baby’s exposure to mercury from fish, prioritize fish that are lowest in mercury and limit the amount and frequency of fish that have higher amounts of mercury. For this reason, avoid serving lake trout in baby’s first year of life and minimize exposure to the fish in toddlerhood and beyond, as this variety can be high in mercury.9

Hold off on smoked trout until after a child’s first birthday, and even then, serve on occasion, as it is often high in sodium. Look for products with less than 100 milligrams of sodium per serving and/or rinse the fish with water, which can remove up to 80% of sodium in certain varieties of water-packed canned fish.10 In addition, bisphenol A (BPA) is used to line the interior of food containers, and studies show that frequent exposure can disrupt a baby’s bodily functions.11 12 Look for cans marked “BPA-free,” when available, or opt for trout in glass jars. Pickled trout is often made from raw trout and is best avoided until after baby’s first birthday due to the increased risk of foodborne illness associated with the consumption of raw fish.13

Is wild-caught trout better than farmed trout?

It is complicated. Farmed trout typically contains lower levels of mercury than wild-caught trout, but both farmed and wild-caught trout are among the best fish for babies because they contain less mercury than popular fish like cod, swordfish, and tuna.14 15 Both farmed and wild-caught trout have an impact on the environment, and it is difficult to claim that one is better than the other. To prioritize the environment, consider seeking out a supplier of trout who prioritizes sustainability, if one is accessible to you. At the end of the day, do the best you can with what is available and know that trout, farmed or wild, is a nutritious food as part of a balanced and varied diet.

Is trout a common choking hazard for babies?

No. Trout 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 trout a common allergen?

Yes, finned fish, including trout, are a common food allergen.16 That said, about 40 percent of people with finned fish allergies don’t experience their first allergic reaction until adulthood.17 Unfortunately, most individuals who are allergic to finned fish do not outgrow the allergy.18

Some individuals with finned fish allergy may react from inhaling airborne proteins that are aerosolized when cooking fish.19 20 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 trout.

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

Trout 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 fish like trout may promote the presence of beneficial bacteria, like Lactobacillus, which contributes to a healthy and diverse gut microbiome.21 22 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 trout 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 9 months old: Start with fresh or frozen (not canned, pickled, or smoked) trout and double check that bones and skin are removed and that the fish is fully cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius). Offer baby strips of fish about the size of two adult fingers pressed together. Know that the trout will likely fall apart in baby’s hands, and that’s okay. They only have the fine motor skills to pick up pieces that are developmentally appropriate and bring them to the mouth. As the fish falls apart in the mouth, you may see some harmless gagging as well. You can also flake apart cooked trout (bones and skin removed) and mix the flakes into a soft, scoopable food like mashed potatoes for baby to self-feed.

9 to 12 months old: At this age, babies develop the pincer grasp (where the thumb and forefinger meet), which enables them to pick up smaller pieces of food. When you see signs of this development, offer bite-sized pieces (think the size of a large adult knuckle) of cooked trout (bones and skin removed) for baby to practice picking up, or you can continue offering strips of fish. Or, cook trout in the form of cakes and patties that baby can grab and munch on.

12 to 24 months old: Toddlers often begin to develop more noticeable food preferences at this stage. Build familiarity with trout by serving it in different ways that introduce the concept that the fish can taste differently depending on how it is prepared. Serve trout on its own or as part of a dish, either as finger food or for utensil practice. If you’d like to introduce smoked trout at this age, just serve in moderation, as cured and smoked fish tends to be high in sodium.

For more, see the Solid Starts Fish guide—the world’s only guide to seafood for babies and toddlers.

What are recipe ideas for cooking with trout?

Trout can be used in any recipe that calls for salmon, which means you can bake, braise, grill, fry, poach, roast, steam, or stew this oily fish with your favorite seasonings. Trout tastes rich from all the oils in its flesh—a flavor that pairs well with tangy sauces like chermoula, salsa verde, romesco, and tzatziki. You can also mash cooked trout as a substitute for tuna in bakes, casseroles, and salads. When you’ve got a trout fillet with the skin intact, try grilling or pan-searing the fish with the skin side facing the heat so that it becomes crispy and tasty like bacon. You can do the same with a whole fish, and don’t forget to eat the fish cheeks, eyes, and roe—deliciously rich parts of the fish that are considered to be a delicacy in many cultures.

Recipe: Baked Trout with Lemon

Yield: 2-3 fillets
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Age: 6 months +

Ingredients

  • ½ pound (227 grams) boneless trout
  • 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • salt to taste for adults and older children (optional: 12 months+)

This recipe contains a common allergen: finned fish (trout). Only serve to a child after this allergen has been safely introduced.

Directions

  1. If the trout is frozen, defrost the fish in the fridge before you plan to cook.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 degrees Celsius).
  3. If the trout is one large fillet, cut it crosswise into smaller fillets about 3 inches wide. Check that all bones are removed.
  4. Coat the fish with oil. Evenly space the fish on the tray with the skin side facing down.
  5. Wash, dry, and thinly slice half of the lemon. Place the lemon slices on top of the fish.
  6. Bake until the fish flakes apart easily and a knife inserted into the thickest part of a fillet reveals no translucent flesh, between 15 and 30 minutes depending on thickness.
  7. If you like, use a food thermometer to check that the fish is fully cooked. When the fish is done, the internal temperature should read 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius). Remove the tray from the oven.
  8. Set aside 1 to 2 ounces of a fillet for baby, discarding the skin and lemon slices. One ounce is approximately equal in size to an adult thumb. Serve baby’s fish in age-appropriate sizes.
  9. Season the fish for adults and older children with salt to taste. Keep their fish warm while baby’s fish cools to room temperature. If you like, prepare a simple sauce to serve with the fish.
  10. Offer baby the fish and let the child try to self-feed. If baby needs help, preload an age-appropriate fork with some of the fish and pass the utensil in the air for baby to grab from you. You can also flake the fish and mix it into mashed vegetables to make it easier for baby to self-feed.

To Store: Baked Trout with Lemon keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days. Use leftover cooked trout in place of cod in our Fish Cakes recipe.

Flavor Pairings

Trout pairs well with the flavors from amaranth, corn, manoomin (wild rice), pumpkin, ramps, and sunchoke (jerusalem artichoke).

Reviewed by

J. Truppi, MSN, CNS. Certified Nutrition Specialist

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP. Board-Certified Pediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT. Pediatric Feeding Therapist

K. Tatiana Maldonado, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS, CLEC. Pediatric Feeding Therapist

Dr. S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist

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

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  2. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2021). Advice about eating fish. Retrieved March 24, 2022
  3. Karimi R, Fitzgerald TP, Fisher NS. (2012). A quantitative synthesis of mercury in commercial seafood and implications for exposure in the United States. Environ Health Perspect. 120(11):1512-9. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1205122. Retrieved March 24, 2022
  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. California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Mercury in fish. Retrieved March 24, 2022
  6. California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. (2017). Frequently Asked Questions about Eating Fish for Women 18-49 years and Children 1-17 years. Retrieved March 24, 2022
  7. HealthVermont.gov. (2014). Eat fish low in…mercury. Retrieved March 24, 2022
  8. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2021). Advice about eating fish. Retrieved March 24, 2022
  9. Karimi R, Fitzgerald TP, Fisher NS. (2012). A quantitative synthesis of mercury in commercial seafood and implications for exposure in the United States. Environ Health Perspect. 120(11):1512-9. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1205122. Retrieved March 24, 2022
  10. Vermeulen RT, Sedor FA, Kimm SY. (1983). Effect of water rinsing on sodium content of selected foods. J Am Diet Assoc. 82(4):394-6. Retrieved March 24, 2022
  11. Mustieles, V., & Fernández, M. F. (2020). Bisphenol A shapes children’s brain and behavior: towards an integrated neurotoxicity assessment including human data. Environmental health : a global access science source, 19(1), 66. DOI: 10.1186/s12940-020-00620-y. Retrieved March 24, 2022
  12. Rochester, J. R., & Bolden, A. L. (2015). Bisphenol S and F: A Systematic Review and Comparison of the Hormonal Activity of Bisphenol A Substitutes. Environmental health perspectives, 123(7), 643–650. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1408989. Retrieved March 24, 2022
  13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Foods that can cause food poisoning. Retrieved March 30, 2022
  14. Karimi, R., Fitzgerald, T. P., & Fisher, N. S. (2012). A quantitative synthesis of mercury in commercial seafood and implications for exposure in the United StatesEnvironmental health perspectives120(11), 1512–1519. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1205122. Retrieved March 24, 2022
  15. United States Food and Drug Administration. (2017, Oct. 25). Mercury levels in commercial fish and shellfish (1990-2012). Retrieved March 24, 2022
  16. Food Allergy Research & Education. Fish allergy. Retrieved March 24, 2022
  17. Food Allergy Research & Education. Fish allergy. Retrieved March 24, 2022
  18. Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team. Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis – Fish. Retrieved March 24, 2022
  19. 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 March 24, 2022
  20. 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 March 24, 2022
  21. 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 March 24, 2022
  22. 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 March 24, 2022