The benefits of seafood for kids are big! Fish and shellfish supply the nutrients, vitamins and omega-3s essential for strong bones, brain development, and healthy heart and immune system. So how do moms get their kids to eat more of this delicious, nutritious food? Seafood Nutrition Partnership talked to hundreds of moms and asked top nutrition experts and chefs for their input — all parents with tested-true tips. Here are the ones that, when put into action with real moms as part of SNP’s Little Seafoodies program, seemed to work best.
Here are the top six secrets to getting your kids to eat more seafood:
- HAVE FIN FUN! WHEN SEAFOOD LOOKS FUN, IT’S “YUM!” For younger kids, this can simply be visually appealing, like a sandwich shaped like a fish. The heart of this concept is for there to be an exciting component. Maybe it’s interactive and they can “play” with their food or make a taco or bowl with their favorite flavor combos.
- DIPPING MEANS YUMMING! Seafood, the perfect ketchup delivery device! More than three-quarters of respondents in our mom survey said dipping sauces would be a good way to get their kids to try seafood. Ketchup, ranch dressing and barbecue sauce are kids’ faves.
- DO THE SEAFOOD SWAP! “Kids love chicken fingers, breaded fish or shrimp is really not that different than chicken,” said Nelson. “Kids love burgers, patty up some shrimp or fish and make burgers.”
“Our kids love tacos and spaghetti…whose kids don’t love those? So sometimes I just substitute beef with shrimp or fish in my tacos and spaghetti sauce,” said Indianapolis mom of two Stephanie Hart. “I find that if you introduce seafood with familiar flavors your kids already love, they’ll eat it with few or no questions. Once they get used to it, then they’re willing to expand and try new things.”
- TOP IT. KIDS LOVE IT! Kids love fruit? Pile it on! Try making an avocado and fruit salsa with mango, pineapple or even strawberries to top a fillet. “Serve fish with sauces and toppings that are flavorful and preferred by kids,” suggested Jessica Levinson, mom of twin girls, dietitian and author of 52-Week Meal Planner. “For example, my Orange Maple Salmon goes over swimmingly with kids because of the sweet flavor of maple syrup.”
- ADD IT TO A FAVE, WATCH ’EM RAVE! Crab in mac & cheese, please! Tuna on pasta makes it go fasta! “I got my daughter back on the shrimp lover’s wagon by adding it to her favorite foods like cheese quesadillas and as a topping on homemade pizza (which she makes herself),” said mom, dietitian and co-founder of Teaspoon of Spice, Deanna Segrave-Daly.
- OUR BEST ADVICE IS TO KEEP TRYING. “Seafood on the menu doesn’t happen overnight— it’s a series of trial and error. Being willing to ‘try and error’ is what landed a variety of seafood on my kids plate today,” said dietitian and mom Robin Plotkin.
For more ways to increase your seafood intake, visit seafoodnutrition.org/seafoodsmarts