Can Babies Eat Shrimp? If So, When Is It Safe? 

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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As a popular seafood choice, you may wonder if shrimp is safe to feed your baby. Does it have any benefits?

Overall, shrimp is a safe option for your baby when it is fully cooked and cut into small, soft pieces. Make sure to cook your shrimp at 145 degrees Fahrenheit until the shrimp turns red and the skin is opaque and a pearl white color. 

Let’s dive into more information regarding the safety of shrimp for your baby, from mercury content to peeling, allergens, choking risk, and more. Read on to learn more!

Is Shrimp Safe for Babies?

Shrimp is safe for your baby if cooked fully to 145 degrees Fahrenheit (source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA]). A fully-cooked shrimp will look red, and the skin will have a pearl color and be opaque.

Partially-cooked shrimp has a higher risk of causing a foodborne illness, so it is essential to use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature. Take the temperature of the shrimp at the thickest part, usually the center. 

homemade grits with shrimps on top

When preparing shrimp for your baby, it is essential to peel them properly. Be cautious about making sure that all of the shrimp shells have been removed. Additionally, taking out the vein is important because it can cause a bitter taste in the shrimp. 

Cut the shrimp into bite-sized pieces to reduce choking risk, especially for shrimp rings. Avoid serving fried shrimp because of its hard texture.

When it comes to sauce, shrimp is typically served with cocktail sauce, which usually contains chili sauce, ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. It often has even a few drops of hot sauce. However, since the spicy elements may not be well tolerated in your baby, it is best to feed your baby shrimp without the sauce. 

Additionally, shrimp is considered low mercury seafood or a “Best Choice” by the FDA. Mercury is a metal that can have toxic effects on the functioning of the brain, heart, kidneys, and more when consumed in high amounts.

This is especially true for young children because it can adversely affect their developing nervous system (source: Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]).

Finally, it is best to avoid giving your baby or young child shrimp ceviche as it is not cooked with heat and may have an increased risk of contamination.

When Can Babies Have Shrimp?

You can feed your baby pureed shrimp at four to six months if it has a very thin and watery texture (source: University of Illinois). At six to eight months, it can be a slightly thicker puree. Finally, at eight to 12 months, your baby can have small bite-sized pieces of shrimp.

At eight to 12 months, if you’re following the baby-led weaning approach, your baby can feed themselves small, bite-sized pieces of shrimp.

cooked shrimps on a table

The Benefits of Shrimp for Babies

Shrimp is also quite healthy for babies as it is rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary protein.

For example, shrimp is rich in iron, a mineral that helps carry oxygen throughout the body through red blood cells (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]).

In fact, the CDC recommends feeding seafood to your baby starting at six months of age to help them get adequate amounts of iron in their diet. Shrimp is also high in vitamin D, zinc, and more. 

Additionally, shrimp contains protein which is essential for your baby’s healthy growth and development. 

How Much Shrimp Should Babies Eat? Can They Have it Every Day?

A serving size of seafood for a child aged one to three is one ounce, and they should consume two “Best Choices” a week (source: FDA). For reference, four ounces is about the size of the palm of your hand. Therefore, a one-ounce serving of seafood for your baby is about a fourth of that size.

If your baby is under one, they will likely eat even less than one ounce, such as half or even a third of an ounce of shrimp.

Deep fried butterfly shrimp in a bowl with cocktail sauce

Possible Shrimp Allergies in Babies

While shellfish, such as shrimp, is a common food allergen, you can still safely incorporate shrimp into your baby’s diet. As long as the shrimp has the appropriate texture for the baby’s age, it can be introduced as early as four to six months (source: Nutrients).

Introduce new food items, especially allergenic foods containing common allergens, like shrimp, one at a time with a few days in between to monitor for symptoms. 

Signs of a food allergy include skin changes (such as hives or swelling), breathing problems (such as wheezing), stomach symptoms (such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea), and circulation changes (source: American Academy of Pediatrics). 

If you notice that your baby ate shrimp and has multiple symptoms in different body areas, seek medical attention immediately. 

In conclusion, I hope you find this article helpful in breaking down the safety, risks, and health benefits of feeding your baby shrimp.