As it turns out kids love Sushi. Of course sushi doesn’t necessarily have to mean raw fish - most children love to eat rice, carrots, cucumber, chicken, some even love tuna with mayonnaise! In fact Japanese add mayonnaise in sushi rolls anyway, so just add some tinned, too tuna and you have tuna mayo sushi.
Not only that kids love sushi but sushi also scores very high on the fun factor for most children. To them making sushi rolls is just like allowing them to play with your food - as sushi rice is very sticky and there are plenty of ingredients to prepare as well as taste. And, evidently then there’s the dipping, too - eating sushi rolls with your hands is truly fun and it actually gets your little ones enjoying their food. So, allow them to have fun with dipping little maki sushi rolls into soy sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise or whatever they can think of. Sushi is a lot of fun for all ages and keep in mind that when it comes to sushi fillings practically anything goes.
However, Japanese parenting magazines and websites recommend that you don’t feed raw fish foods to very young kids. The reason is that their immature digestive systems can't handle things that more mature, toughened digestive systems can.
According to most sources you should definitely not feed raw or undercooked fish to babies who aren't on solid food yet. Japanese moms generally give cooked, shredded fish along with other baby-friendly food to their kids who are being weaned.
When children are already on solid food, some parents have no problem allowing their kids to have raw fish. Usually the recommended age at which kids may eat some kinds of raw fish varies from around age 2 1/2 - 3, all the way up to age 6.
When it comes to the safety of raw seafood, this actually varies by type. The least safe raw seafood products for immature or compromised digestive systems are shellfish that can get contaminated very easily. This should rule out non-sushi raw shellfish like raw clams and oysters too. According to most recommendations, freshwater fish, salmon and 'blue' fish like mackerel should also be held back until the children are older.
In case you are serving raw-fish sushi or sashimi at home and you want your small children to start enjoying the texture and flavor, it’s best to lightly cook the surface of sashimi slices by quickly searing them in a hot frying pan, or swishing them a few times in boiling water.
Obviously there are many cooked sushi items to enjoy, like tamagoyaki (omelette), boiled shrimp, kanpyo (dried and simmered gourd strips), most makimono (rolls) are made with cooked neta or vegetables, or just contain a little bit of tuna (tekkamaki), and many others – there are also vegetables like cucumber and radish sprouts. Cooked sushi or sushi made with vegetables is evidently fine for toddlers who are on solid food.
Have you tried giving your toddler sushi? How was your child’s first sushi experience? Share with us in the comments below.