Tips for Getting Kids to Eat Fish

Kids don’t have a reputation as the most adventurous eaters. Many of them are especially averse to eating fish, even though it’s one of the healthiest things they can eat. If your children would rather stick with french fries, chicken nuggets, and other familiar (but unhealthy!) foods, take a look at these tips for getting your kids to eat fish.

1. Don’t Make it Obvious

If your child hates fish, it might be because they have a negative association with it. Maybe they don’t like the “fishy” way it smells, looks, or feels. Maybe they had a bad experience when they were younger that taught them to steer clear. Breaking this psychological association isn’t easy, so look for more subtle ways to incorporate fish into their meals. 

A few cuts of fish to a stew or pot pie? If they’re enjoying it, they never have to know! The more they eat, the more accustomed they will get. Eventually, you can start working fish into the meal in more noticeable ways without keeping it a secret. 

2. Try Again After a Few Years

Children have very sensitive taste buds, which is why they often have outsize reactions to stronger flavors. With age, those taste buds actually lose some of their sensitivity. That’s why the things you enjoy as an adult are often different from the things you enjoyed as a child.

Just because your kid didn’t like fish when they were 4 or 5, doesn’t mean that they will have the same reaction when they are 8 or 9. Keep trying to introduce fish, and if all else fails you can always go back to #1 in this list.

3. Choose a Mild and Meaty Fish

The “fishy” aroma and taste is what puts many children off. But not all fish have that “fishy” quality. Seabass is very meaty, for instance, and cod lacks the fishiness commonly found in oily varieties. Look for these and other meaty fish with a neutral taste and smell. 

Your kids will still get a hefty dose of protein and plenty of omega-3 oils, and after some time has passed, they may be more open to expanding their horizons.

4. Skip the Sushi

When some parents say, “My kid hates fish and seafood”, they mean that they hate sushi and shellfish. These foods are fantastic if you’re an adult with an adventurous palette. For a child, they can seem a little too exotic and strange.

Give the sushi a miss and stick with cooked fish. And if you’re going to use shellfish, don’t serve them raw. A little lemon juice and salt is great for oysters while mussel meat is delicious served with olive oil. But if you want your kids to tuck in, it’s better to add them to soups, sauces, and dips.

5. Make Burgers

Even the pickiest kid probably loves burgers. So why not put a twist on the burger recipe? You can make healthier versions of this favorite from pretty much any meat. Use fish instead of beef and pork. The process is very similar, and you can use the same buns and toppings they’re used to.

Your kids will likely be much more receptive to eating fish if it’s disguised as one of their favorites. 

6. Turn it into Tacos

Who can resist Taco Tuesday? Create a special day for your kids to enjoy tacos. If they don’t get them the rest of the week, then they’ll start looking forward to that one day, even if all (or most) of the tacos are filled with fish.

Just bake, air fry or fry the fish, add some fresh lemon or lemon juice, and throw on a little spice. Stuff the pieces into taco shells like you would any other protein, and you’ll be good to go.