Is Smoked Salmon Safe for Babies? Ages and Types

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Since smoked salmon can be both hot smoked and cooked or cold smoked, it is essential to discuss the safety of this popular food for your baby. 

Overall, hot smoked salmon is safe for babies since it has been cooked. However, avoid serving your baby cold smoked salmon or lox because of the risk of listeria infection. Only serve smoked salmon in moderation because of the sodium content.

This article will dive deeper into the safety of smoked salmon for babies, how to prepare it, any benefits, and more. 

Is Smoked Salmon Safe for Babies?

Smoked salmon that has been cooked in heat is safe for babies. They can begin to have salmon around six months old if they are served in the appropriate texture for their age.

hot smoked salmon with lettuce and pepper on a plate

We will discuss more about the differences between hot and cold smoked salmon below!

Fish and seafood in general is an excellent food for babies because of their high nutritional value. More specifically, smoked salmon is rich in protein, healthy fats (including omega-3 fatty acids), vitamins, and minerals, such as vitamin B12, niacin, vitamin B6, and more (source: United States Department of Agriculture [USDA]).

These vitamins and minerals are needed to support healthy growth and development!

It is high in protein, with over six grams per ounce, or about 30 grams of smoked salmon. Protein is vital for your baby’s growth and muscle development.

Also, omega-3 fatty acids play a role in healthy brain functioning and reducing inflammation (source: StatPearls). 

Since it is an animal product, it does contain some dietary cholesterol. Cholesterol is naturally produced in our livers and does not need to be consumed in the diet. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming as little dietary cholesterol as possible.

However, it is not very much cholesterol, with less than 20 milligrams per ounce of salmon (source: USDA). 

Additionally, salmon contains selenium which acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are compounds that fight against the harmful effects of free radicals. Antioxidants are essential for your baby because they help to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress caused by free radicals. 

Hot Smoked or Cooked Salmon for Babies

Hot smoked salmon that is treated with heat is safe for babies because the heat kills off any bacteria that could potentially cause a food-borne illness.

cold smoked salmon

However, since salmon has such a flaky texture, ensure you prepare it appropriately when serving it to your young baby. For babies that are around six months old, feed them pureed salmon that is watery and thin in consistency (source: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia).

Only provide about a tablespoon or two of the pureed smoked salmon at this age.

Once they are a few months older, you can give thicker consistency of pureed or mashed salmon, similar to mashed potato texture. You can use a fork and mash the smoked salmon this way. At this point, you can increase to up to four tablespoons per feeding.

Finally, at nine or ten months old, you can give your baby small chunks of salmon they can pick up on their own and feed themselves (source: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). 

Since cooked salmon has a flaky texture, it is easy to ensure that the pieces are small enough for your baby to eat. 

A primary concern of smoked salmon is its high salt content. Limiting high sodium foods in your baby’s diet is crucial since it is unhealthy for their kidneys (source: National Health Service [NHS]).

Since it is difficult to find a type of smoked salmon that is low in sodium (because salt is often part of the preservation process), it is best just to feed your baby smoked salmon in moderation.

Grilled salmon and orange slices on cutting board

Cold Smoked Salmon and Babies

Since cold smoked salmon is typically brined in salt or another method, it does not reach temperatures high enough to kill off any potential bacteria. Therefore, it is best to avoid smoked seafood that has not been cooked and is labeled as “Nova style,” “lox,” “kippered,” or “jerky” (source: Mayo Clinic).

However, it is safe if the smoked salmon is canned or shelf-stable. 

In conclusion, I hope this article helped break down the recommendations regarding feeding your baby smoked salmon