Can Babies Eat Eel (Unagi)? Is It Safe? 

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Eel is a popular seafood around the world, whether grilled or in sushi, such as unagi. Let’s discuss if your baby can safely eat eel and if it is healthy for them.

Overall, eel, or unagi (grilled eel), is a safe, nutritious, and low-mercury seafood once your baby is at least six months old. Make sure the eel is fully cooked by checking the internal temperature at the thickest part of the eel.

In this article, we will cover more information about the safety of eel for your baby, how to prepare it, nutrition information, and more. Read on to learn more.

Is Eel (Unagi) Safe for Babies? 

Your baby can safely have eel (or unagi) beginning when they are at least six months old. Eel is a type of seafood that is low in mercury (source: Journal of the Food Hygienic Society). Therefore, your baby can have it twice a week (source: United States Food & Drug Administration [FDA]).

grilled eel

Eel is commonly served as unagi, which is grilled eel, or in sushi. However, since seafood is one of the most common allergens, it is best to first introduce eel to your baby as a single-ingredient food (source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology).

This way, you can identify the cause of an allergic reaction does occur. Also, make sure you introduce new foods at least three days apart. Symptoms of a food allergy include hives, wheezing, diarrhea, or vomiting (source: American Academy of Pediatrics). 

At six months old, your baby can safely have pureed seafood that is completely smooth (source: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). At this age, you can add some breast milk or infant formula to make the eel puree thinner and more watery. When your baby is between seven and nine months, they can have thicker purees.

At ten months old, you can give your baby small and soft bite-sized pieces of eel. Make sure the pieces are small to reduce the risk of choking. Also, be sure that the bones of the eel are removed. This food can be great for baby-led weaning because your baby can easily grasp and pick up the pieces of eel and bring them to their mouth.

Ensure the eel is thoroughly cooked to 145 degrees Celsius or 165 degrees Celsius if reheating previously cooked eel (source: FDA). Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature in the thickest section of the piece of eel.

If serving your baby eel in sushi, make sure all of the other components of the sushi are fully cooked. 

holding eel sushi with chopsticks

Are There Benefits of Eel for Babies? 

Eel is a very nutrient-dense seafood that provides vitamins and minerals to your baby. For example, eel contains vitamins A, B12, and D (source: United States Department of Agriculture [USDA]).

Additionally, eel is very high in protein, with almost seven grams in just an ounce, or 28 grams. However, eel also contains a high amount of saturated fat. Therefore, serve your baby a variety of different types of seafood, not just eel. 

Overall, eel is an excellent food for babies once they are six months old. Hopefully, this article provided beneficial information to you on how to safely prepare and serve eel to your baby.