Keep it simpleStart wary toddlers off with mild, sweet-flavoured fish such as ling or salmon. Using tiny star-shaped pasta mixed with a simple creamy sauce and some flaked fish is a good introduction to seafood. Add frozen peas to the mixture for a burst of colour and veggie goodness. If you reserve some of the fish mixture before adding the pasta and top it with mashed potato you’ve got an instant first fish pie to freeze for another day!
Mix it upAdding different textures to your toddler’s plate can help too.
Mixing flaked fish through rice to make an easy kedgeree, cooking seafood in a crisp batter, dipping fish in breadcrumbs or wrapping a small piece of salmon in store-bought puff pastry all give an extra taste sensation. Don’t forget to decorate your pastry fish parcel using small cookie cutters to cut out scraps of dough in the shape of stars, hearts or your child’s initials. You could even try making seafood lollipops by skewering chunks of firm fish, such as salmon or monkfish, onto paddle sticks so your little one can pick them up and nibble.
Get your toddler cookingIf your toddler made it (and got messy and had a lot of fun in the process) they’re more likely to eat it. Dipping home-made fish fingers in panko (Japanese breadcrumbs that are extra crunchy – find them in the Asian aisle), patting fishcakes into shape (wet their hands first so the food doesn’t stick solid to the kitchen bench afterwards) or creating their own mini sushi rolls will give them their first experience in how good it is to make – and eat – their own fresh food.
Don’t dismiss the easy optionIf your seafood menu includes frozen fish fingers, and canned sardines, tuna or salmon, don’t think it’s a bad thing as the protein and omega 3 levels aren’t affected by freezing or canning. Most busy mums keep a stash of these in their freezer and cupboards for when they need a quick teatime turn-around. Fish finger tacos, tuna added to a pita pizza, sardines in tomato sauce on wholegrain toast or simply salmon sandwiches are all nutritious options.
Change the sceneryOnce in a while take your toddler for a special treat by eating out – sharing a portion of fish and chips at the park or beach, or enjoying the novelty of a sushi train restaurant encourages your little one to associate eating fish with having fun. Parents are often surprised by how sophisticated their toddler’s palate is, once they steer clear of children’s menus and are allowed to sample from the adults’ plates.
Fresh tip: Always check for stray bones after cooking fish. This is where a scrubbed pair of tweezers comes in handy! And if you’re buying a couple of fillets to cook at different times, request that they’re wrapped separately so you can take them out of the freezer as and when you need them.
Extracted from Woolworths Baby and Toddler Club.