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Adventurous kids and forbidden foods?

I am lucky, my daughter is nearly three and has been an adventurous eater her whole life (so far, at least, I am sure that could change any minute). We take her out to eat often and she eats whatever we eat. Her current favorite is mussels (she likes to eat "fish that live in shells") but she has had octopus, goat, alligator, you name it. We went out for sushi the other night and got her some miso soup and soba noodles while my husband and I ordered a huge sushi platter, honestly we did not expect her to eat it. Well she must have been captivated by the vibrant colors because she picked up a piece of salmon and ate it, thn proceeded all of the salmon roe and sea urchin/umi from on top of our roles. I thought it was cute and was proud of her for being so adventurous.

I was tellling that story to a friend of mine, and her mother in law chimed in and said that it was terrible I let my daughter eat raw fish and it's completely unhealthy to give raw fish to a child under 7. Of course, that comment has now made me paramoid! Is that true? I looked online and did not really find anything to support that? I want to ensure my daughter stays brave and adventurous but, of course, I do not want to risk making her sick. Has anyone heard this? Are there any foods thathould be avoided by children? I know there are rules surrounding when you introduce food to infants but I simply thought that three is old enough to try anything.

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  1. While I have little doubt that you may be presented with stories of potential allergies or suggestions of terrors hiding in raw fish, it seems your daughter isn't exhibiting any adverse consequences from the exposure. That adds her to those, like me, who began eating raw seafood at an early age and got to keep on doing it.

    I am curious though, why is it ok at 7? Does something magically change in all children on that particular birthday?

    2 Replies
    1. re: MGZ

      <I am curious though, why is it ok at 7? Does something magically change in all children on that particular birthday?>

      Maybe the change is in the parents, rather than the children. As in, after seven years, you realize that your kid is tough enough to deal with some challenges, dietary and otherwise. (Just throwing that out there, as a childless person who knows nothing about these matters.)

      1. re: MGZ

        I'm agree with MGZ. She did not have any adverse effects. People are built differently and she seems fine.

        I see plenty of kids these days eating sushi with their parents at ages younger than seven. Of course moderation is key but I see no problem with her eating sushi or raw fish.

      2. If you're worried, talk to your pediatrician...and even then, I wouldn't be too fussed...somehow the Japanese survive to adulthood on a diet that includes lots of raw fish.

        1. I have a similarly adventurous eater, although she is now 10. Mussels was her favorite, too, at 3 and still is. There are few foods she won't eat, although like most people she has preferences. I truly believe that one contributing factor (aside from personality) is that we exposed her to all sorts of food from the time she was eating solids. That includes sushi (the rice) and sashimi (the raw fish). She eats all sorts of dishes with cooked and uncooked seafood. The caution is mercury levels and other heavy metals/contaminants. We are careful with both cooked and uncooked fish in regards to this. It doesn't just apply to raw fish. Good luck!

          1. I also did a search, and yes, nothing is really concrete. Main warning are Mercury poisoning, which may come into play if your child was eating sushi with a possible mercury content in large amounts over a period of time. In adults, at least in the USA, it seems that eating sushi that may have mercury, that would mean 6 sushi meals a week. Since a child had a smaller body, the limit would be smaller as well. So don't make it a semi-daily item.

            The other issue that comes up is food poisoning. As this would affect you as well, knowing your sushi place to be well maintained and safe for you , works for your child as well. What might be a mild case for you, would be more harmful in a child.

            Other than that, I could find no recent data, most was anecdotal. I think the MIL of your friend was well, being a tad GOML and doing the urban myth thing. (does she eat sushi?)

            So, if you trust your sushi place and it is an occasional meal, sounds like you are good to go.

            1. If you asked your child's doctor, keep an eye on quality the rest is tolerating the advice of others who seem to know better. Great time to excercise your rights and instincts as the parent of your children. Chimers abound...especially if you give them the power to run your roost.

              Good luck, AmblerGirl!

              1. I have driven our doctor crazy with these types of concerns and I have never heard of no-raw-fish-under-7 rule. I do, however, think that some adults, for whatever reason, get annoyed when they hear about kids having fun enjoying "adult" food. Maybe the MIL is just a pill?

                Your daughter may go through times when she is less adventurous but stay the course, she will swing back around. Our son was the same way and then one day, he decided to get "picky." We didn't make a big deal out of it and just kept offering up whatever we were eating and the phase past.

                1. My kids (age 8 and 6) both are adventurous eaters. We've always encouraged them to try everything, and they love most fruits and veggies too.

                  My 6yo loves seared ahi sashimi, and the 8yo loves spicy yellowtail rolls but we do limit it to 4-5 pieces each . Kid's bodies are smaller, so I'm more concerned with mercury levels as the mercury in 5 pieces of fish are going to affect a kid's body more than an adult's body. They do eat other fish like grilled salmon, halibut, etc but we try to limit their fish intake to once a week.

                  1. My daughter is 7 and has always been an adventurous eater and has been eating raw fish since about 2 1/2. Thankfully we haven't encountered any problems thank goodness.

                    1. To have an adventurous young eater is indeed a wonderful thing, a perfect companion for delicious food, a great way to enjoy life!

                      I had been trying my best to balance the practice of "safe" eating versus exposing my little one to new foods. I am aware there are always risks (even as an adult, when it comes to food) and yet do not wish to miss the window of opportunity introducing her to new tastes, when she is supposed to be more receptive to them.

                      My daughter tasted her first oyster (and its juice) when she was around two. She also had raw fish (fresh and cured) around that time, in limited quantities. Seeing she does not appear to be at risk for allergies, she was also introduced to nuts at about one. Raw milk cheeses too (there are guidelines in France on what cheeses are "safe").

                      I would like to know what others think on this too.

                      1. A similiar thread is here:


                        The two big "anti" arguments are of course mercury and parasites. That said, my parents allowed me to have a fresh raw oyster now and again from the age of four.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: pinehurst

                          I think that's a sensible course. It makes me wonder how many parents do as Ma Ingalls did with poor Laura and those pork cracklings, and restrict "rich" foods! Not many nowadays, I imagine.

                          I'd be curious to know if parents who wouldn't let their kids have sushi or raw oysters also restrict their lunchmeat intake.

                        2. I think very small children's immune systems aren't as well developed as adults and there's reason for being more cautious about some things with them. That said, I don't know where the woman got the age 7 rule. My son is 10, so I'm going back aways, but I think he was around 3 when I started giving him raw fish sushi. Just to be on the safe side, I double checked with my pediatrician, who I find to be a model of reasonableness and common sense and he said it was fine, his daughters were eating raw fish at that age, too. I think his basic point was to apply the same precautions you'd naturally apply to yourself, assuming you're not in the habit of flirting with food poisoning, make sure you trust the place serving you raw fish to be serving you fish that is fresh and high quality.

                          Obviously, certain foods carry higher risks than others and a young child, including a 3 year old, may suffer more seriously than an adult, if exposed to those problems. But on those grounds, it could be reasonably argued that you should keep your 3 year old away from hamburgers and spinach and no one is suggesting you do that.

                          I say ignore your friend's MIL and enjoy your daughter's palate while it lasts. (I hate to be a wet blanket, but it would be very, very common in 2 or 3 years for her to get much less adventurous, start rejecting foods she ate happily and generally to become a much more conservative eater. It's nothing you did and there's not much you can do about it. Hold on until she's 11 or 12 and she'll likely start to come around again.)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: anotherjennifer

                            Sushi I wouldn't worry about - if you're in the US, IIRC, sushi fish will have been flash frozen to kill parasite, by law, and the mercury/metal risk is no more than that from eating cooked fish.

                            Raw shellfish (like oysters), however, are significantly more risky as far as food poisoning goes, so it's important to be really sure about the quality of the oysters you are getting. They can't be flash frozen, and aren't cooked, so if there is contamination, you're stuck with it. The only serious food poisoning I've ever had (ie, worse than a few days of diarreah, or a 24 hour flu type response) was most likely from raw oysters.

                            Some types of food poisoning are more dangerous for children than others - E Coli is one - so rare hamburger, for example, would be much less safe for kids than a healthy adult.

                            But yeah, I agree with other posters that the perception of risk tends to be really skewed compared to the actual risk, for a lot of things, not just food.