Why You Should Give Your Baby Sardines

a tin of sardines before being prepared for babies starting solids

Wait! Stay with me. This smelly little fish might just be the single best food for babies. (Okay, it’s tied with salmon and chicken liver, but…)

Among the fish lowest in mercury in all of the sea and chock full of omega fatty acids, sardines are absolutely terrific for babies. And they can be introduced from day one on your solids journey if your baby is 6 months old or older. 

And major bonus: they can be served straight from the can.

Sardines are high in iron, protein, and zinc and they compete with salmon as one of the top seafood sources of omega-3 fatty acids—including the critical DHA—which fuel your baby’s eyesight, cardiovascular health, central nervous system development, and cell growth in this early stage of life. 

Sardines are sometimes sold fresh at fish counters but are more often preserved in aluminum cans and stocked by most American grocery stores and online retailers. 

When buying canned sardines for your baby, look for boneless sardines marked “low sodium”. Sardines packed in water that are marked “no salt added” or “low sodium” are safe options. 

Finned fish like sardines are a top food allergen. That said, it’s estimated that only 1% of Americans are allergic to finned fish.1  If you have a family history of allergies, or suspect your baby may be allergic to fish, consult an allergist before introducing sardines. To serve canned sardines, check out our First Foods® database entry on Sardines and put your cat in another room!

  1. Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team. Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis – Fish. Retrieved January 9, 2020
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