Seafood is one of the last foods a lot of kids will try. I get it.  It doesn’t fall into any of the categories generally offered up to kids in our culture. It’s not quite meat (i.e. a nugget), it definitely isn’t a vegetable, and it isn’t a delicious starch.

 But “oily” fish like salmon, tuna, and trout, are such a good source of healthy fats. And seafood options like like shrimp, crab, and oysters can be such a fun part of family meals.

But my kids weren’t always fans. So here’s what I did.

Introducing seafood, the food kids love to play with. | Cool Mom Eats

Learning to crack crabs on the porch at the beach.

Want the kids to eat seafood and shellfish? Make it fun.

What’s fun for kids? Getting messy. Especially with parental endorsement.

Playing with your food is normally forbidden, but a shellfish meal invites it. Preparing and eating seafood can be the ultimate hands-on activity. I mean, what kid won’t want to learn how to use a crab cracker? It’s a dramatic looking tool and you use it to break things.

Our kids learned to crack crabs on the porch at the beach, and they learned to love the resulting crab cakes.

I also remember our middle child learning to peel and eat a crawdad. He got the job done, dipped it in melted butter, and popped it in his mouth.  (Then immediately put the head on his finger and used it as a finger puppet, which he continued to do throughout his childhood.)

And speaking of butter, most of us don’t normally dip every bite of food in butter, but it’s allowed here, and kids may like that.

Another fun aspect of eating seafood night is the lobster bib, especially when adorned with a funny cartoon lobster.

And don’t forget, there’s that big bucket in the middle of the table where you drop discarded shells. Just this once, let the kids toss them with abandon.

Getting kids to try fish is easy with DIY sushi. | Cool Mom Eats

DIY sushi is a great way to introduce fatty fish.

When it came to getting my kids to try just about anything, Sushi Made Easy was my friend. Kumfu Wong’s book, full of simple recipes and great tips, is part of a sushi-making kit, and the kids and I learned how to make rolls together.

We would set out our ingredients, and I’d let them include things like sliced tofu dogs and cheese, because why not? We may have even had a peanut butter and jelly roll at some point.

Not my cup of tea, but if they were willing to try a tuna roll alongside that PBJ, it worked for me.

Related: How to make your own onigirazu, or sushi sandwiches

Linguine alle cozze | Cool Mom Eats

Want your child to love seafood? Keep trying.

Not every kid will get excited about peel and eat shrimp, and sushi isn’t for everyone. But there are so many options, and if you keep trying, and introducing seafood gradually, your child may be plucking mussels from the shell soon enough.

At the very least, you might end up with a child like our youngest — he likes shucking oysters, but not eating them. Which, actually, makes him very popular at oyster roasts.

Sushi photo Mittmac via Pixabay; other photos © Anne Wolfe Postic