Nuts are in the news again. New guidelines released this week recommend parents feed babies peanut-based foods as early as six months of age. Evidence suggests that doing so could help prevent peanut allergies. This is a change from previous advice that suggested introducing peanut-based products before toddler-age could actually lead to a peanut allergy.
These new recommendation were released on January 5 by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and are endorsed by the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. They stem from a research study published in 2015 that found introducing peanuts early reduced the risk of high-risk infants developing a peanut allergy by age five.
What is high-risk?
Babies are at high risk if they:
- are allergic to eggs
- have severe eczema
- have both of these
If you baby is high-risk, talk to your doctor about what to do. You might decide together to test first and/or introduce peanuts in the doctor’s office at four months of age, as an example.
The Peanut Plan
If your baby is low-risk, they cold also benefit from an early taste of peanuts. Consider introducing small amounts of peanut products several times a week at home. Offer a small portion and then wait 10 minutes, looking for signs of a reaction. If no reaction develops, offer more—but keep watching for immediate or delayed reactions. Make sure to try the peanuts when your baby is healthy—if they have a cold it will be hard to tell if symptoms are from the virus or are a potential allergic reaction.
What to Offer
Trying peanuts doesn’t mean you have to place a PB&J sandwich on their high chair tray. Whole peanuts pose a choking risk and should be avoided, but there are many ways to introduce peanuts, including:
- Add 2-3 tsp. of hot water to 2 tsp. of smooth peanut butter, mix and cool
- Peanut-flavoured snack puffs (e.g., Bamba) can be used
- Mix 2 tsp. smooth peanut butter with 2 tbsp. fruit or veggie puree
- Add 2 tsp. peanut flour to 2 tbsp. fruit or veggie puree
And if all goes well, you’ve got a potent portable protein in your arsenal of first foods for baby!