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Can My Toddler Eat Sushi?

Toddlers can be finicky eaters and it can be challenging to find healthy foods that they'll willingly chow down on. Sometimes, a little bit of novelty can help motivate your little one to eat healthy food options, like vegetables or fish. Sushi can be a fun option for toddlers. They can eat it with their fingers in bite-sized chunks. But not all types of sushi are safe for little kids.

Can Toddlers Eat Sushi?
Can my toddler eat sushi? zoranm / Getty Images

Toddlers can safely eat sushi with vegetables or eggs in it. They can eat a limited amount of sushi with fish in it, as long as the fish is low in mercury and is fully cooked.12

"Sushi can be a healthy choice for toddlers, as long as it is prepared properly and with age-appropriate ingredients," says Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP, a board-certified pediatrician in New Jersey and the medical consultant of Amy Baby Review.

What Is Sushi?

The word "sushi" refers to a Japanese dish prepared with rice and vinegar. Many types of sushi are served with raw fish, but sushi can refer to a range of other ingredients, such as vegetables, eggs, or cooked seafood.

Sushi is a common dish on Japanese food menus, but it is often reserved for special occasions in Japan. Sushi that contains fish is rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids.3 Seaweed is another common ingredient, providing other important nutrients.

Is Sushi Safe for My Toddler?

A limited amount of sushi that contains fish can be a healthy choice for your toddler if the fish is low in mercury and has been cooked completely. "Make sure to avoid raw seafood, as well as high-mercury fish like tuna and swordfish," says Dr. Alexander. Eating too much fish that contains mercury could impact the development of a child's nervous system.4

Every toddler is different. Be sure to consult with a pediatrician if you have any questions about giving your toddler sushi.

Benefits of Sushi for Toddlers

As long as any fish or meat in the sushi has been fully cooked, sushi has many benefits for toddlers.

If your toddler is eating fish, count that as a win. Seafood contains omega-3 fatty acids that support brain development.5 Just remember to stick to two servings of low-mercury fish, like salmon, crab, or butterfish, each week.6 "Sushi offers many health benefits for toddlers, such as providing protein, healthy fats, and nutrients like Vitamin B6, and iodine," says Dr. Alexander.

Along with fish and rice, it often contains other nutritious ingredients such as seaweed, avocado, cucumber, or carrots. Toddlers who refuse to eat those foods plain may gobble them up in a sushi roll.

Safety Precautions

There are some important safety precautions to keep in mind when serving sushi to toddlers.

Fish Should Be Fully Cooked

Any fish or meat that your toddler eats needs to be cooked completely. They should not eat raw, smoked, seared, or otherwise less-than-well-done animal products.1 "Parents should be particularly careful when introducing sushi to toddlers since their smaller bodies are more susceptible to food-borne illnesses," notes Dr. Alexander.

Risk of Choking

Sushi is often served in bite-sized pieces that are just a little too big for a toddler to eat safely. Consider taking the sushi rolls apart or cutting them up smaller so that your toddler is less likely to choke. Watch them carefully to make sure they are chewing and swallowing well.

Serve a Limited Amount of Low-Mercury Fish

While fish makes up an important part of a toddler's diet, they should eat no more than two servings of fish each week. Unfortunately, nearly all seafood has been exposed to some level of mercury contamination, so it is important to limit your toddler's fish intake.4 "High levels of mercury can be dangerous if consumed in large quantities," notes Dr. Alexander.

You should also choose low-mercury seafood only. Safe options include clams, flounder, herring, salmon, shrimp, and whitefish. Fish to avoid include king mackerel, swordfish, big-eye tuna, and tilefish.2

Watch for Allergies

Check for signs of allergy when serving your toddler foods they haven't tried before. Introduce shellfish and fish separately, and wait a few days before trying anything else new.7 If your child becomes itchy or has a rash, seek medical help. But if they are swelling around their face or neck or if they can't speak or breathe, seek emergency care immediately.7

When and How to Introduce Sushi to Your Toddler

Toddlers can try sushi whenever they are interested, so introduce this food when you want. Just make sure your little one can chew well, so there's less risk of them choking.

"You can start by introducing cooked fish and other ingredients such as mango, avocado, cooked shrimp, or imitation crab," suggests Dr. Alexander. "Try slicing vegetables into thin strips to make a veggie sushi roll alongside other ingredients like imitation crab, cooked shrimp, avocado, and mango."

What Amount of Sushi Should I Give My Toddler?

Let your child lead the way when it comes to the amount of sushi they eat. But, if your sushi contains fish, be sure to keep a limit on how much they have over a week's time.

Amount of Sushi to Give Your Child Based on Age1-3 years old 2 ounces per week4-7 years old 4 ounces per week8-10 years old 6 ounces per weekFood and Drug Administration (FDA)

A Word From Verywell

Sushi can be a safe and healthy option for toddlers, especially if you're trying to work some extra protein and vegetables into their diet. But make sure any fish you serve is fully cooked, and not raw. Toddlers should also only eat a limited amount of seafood that is low in mercury.4 Try cutting the sushi up even smaller for toddlers so that they don't choke. If you have any questions or concerns about whether your toddler can eat sushi, always reach out to your child's healthcare provider.

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