Shellfish Safe for Babies too ? Oh Yes !

Can baby have shellfish ? Of course, as long as your child is not at high risk for shellfish allergies (as in you and your partner and families doesn’t have shellfish allergies) then try to introduce the shellfish to your babies diet once they have developed a good chewing and swallowing skills (8-9 months onward is usually safe after most complementary foods has been introduced, and as long as proper textures is provided).  American Academy of Pediatrics indicates that you no longer have to wait till one year old to introduce seafood shellfish and crustaceans.  If you still aren’t sure, check in with your child’s pediatrician for advice.

So, where should you start ? Try clams, it has a milder taste compared to all the other shellfish such as oyster and mussels. Plus, clams has many good nutrients that are good for your child’s development.

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Clams are a good source of following nutrients:

PROTEIN
We already know protein is important as it’s a building blocks of all of our body cells structure.  Adequate intake of protein will help maintain our muscle mass and it’s important to help in children’s growth and development.

VITAMIN B12 
B12 is an essential for DNA and nerve cells formation. It is also an important vitamins to help prevent anemia. How much B12 you require is based on your age. According to National Institute of Health (NIH) the requirement for young infants (Birth to 12 months = 0.4-0.5 mcg/day), children age 1-8 (0.9-1.2 mcg/day), children age 9-13 (1.8 mcg/day), Teenager and adult are the same at 2.4 mcg/day. Pregnant and lactating women needs slightly higher intake at 2.6-2.8 mcg/day.

ZINC
Zinc helps with our immune system, reproductive health, wound healing and cell formations. It is required for proper taste and smell too.

SELENIUM
Selenium is a trace elements that plays an important role in DNA synthesis and protection from oxidation damage and infection. Research has shown that selenium can help with certain cancer prevention, brain function, thyroid and heart disease.

OMEGA-3 Fatty Acids
DHA and EPA are the two commonly known Omega-3 fatty acids that helps with heart disease. How? It helps lowering the triglycerides level in the blood stream.  DHA is an important nutrients to help with brain development, especially in growing children.  It is also believed to help with Alzheimer’s and dementia as well.

Based on USDA nutrient database, a pound of clams with shell would yield about 2 oz meat that contain:

Energy 84 calories
Protein 15 g
Fat
(Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
1.1 g

222 mg

Carbohydrates 3 g
 Minerals/Vitamins
Zinc  1.6 mg (20% RDA)
Calcium 52 mg (6% RDA)
Selenium 36 mg (52% RDA)
Phosphorus 192 mg  (20% RDA)
Manganese 0.6 mg (28% RDA)
Potassium 356 mg  (10% RDA)
Vitamin B 12 56 mg ( 922% RDA)
Vitamin C 12 mg (20% RDA)
Niacin 1.8 mg (10% RDA)
Riboflavin 0.2 mg (14% RDA)

How to Clean Clams?

Cleaning clam doesn’t require a lot of work. Once you’ve purchase clams from reputable sources (reputable fish market to get the fresh one) you’ll need to soak them in some salt water solution to make the clam spit out the sand and impurities – so called “Purging clams”. Most US retailers already pre-purge their clams, and you can still do it at home for a precautionary step just because I really hate biting into clam that has sands as it will ruin the taste and eating experience for sure.

How to cook Clams ? 

You can steam, boiled, sauteed, broiled, baked, stir fry and/or use it to make soups.  For young babies, you just make sure to chopped it small or minced it  cause clams tends to be chewy in texture.  Check out my clam recipes here.

Caution : 
Any seafood and shellfish consumption does carry a certain level of risk to exposure of environmental toxin (E.coli, Norovirus and also bacteria that can cause hepatitis A). Therefore, always always buy from reputable sources. Shellfish always have to fresh until it’s cooked. It should be shiny, closed (well sealed), no cracks, and smells like the sea. If you smell the fishy odor, likely it’s no longer fresh.

DID YOU KNOW ?
Clams are actually sustainable foods !

Based on Seafood Health Facts organization, Clams represent one of our nation’s most sustainable seafood resources. Natural production remains strong and exceeds demand, and farmed production is improving and expanding. The ocean based resource of surf and mahogany clams is managed under a Surf Clam–Ocean Quahog Management Plan and the resource is healthy. Other clam species are primarily harvested in state waters (up to 3 miles from shore) and are managed by state fishery management programs. Clams are a good example of a sustainable resource because they are dependent on clean and healthy waters, and are effectively managed at the local level. They are an important part of a healthy ecosystem because their active filtering can help improve or maintain water quality.

 

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