Peanut allergies are on the rise across the world.
They are the second most common food allergy in children, occurring in 1 in every 50 children.
Many parents have begun to avoid feeding their baby peanuts in the hope of preventing allergies.
However, most doctors agree that you can start giving your baby peanut products once they get used to solid food.
You can introduce your baby to peanuts by gradually adding them to their diet and watching for potential reactions.
Talk to your baby’s doctor.
Before you introduce peanuts to your baby, talk to your pediatrician.
Your doctor can confirm that it is safe for your baby to try peanuts, especially if they have other food allergies or eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis)
Answer any questions your pediatrician may have about family history with peanuts.
If you or the baby’s other parent has a peanut allergy, the baby may also have one.
Recognize that your doctor may refer your baby to an allergist to test for potential allergies and develop a plan to introduce solid foods.
Offer peanuts at the appropriate age.
Parents have increasingly delayed giving their baby peanuts and peanut products.
However, you don’t need to wait years to give your child peanuts.
Instead, introduce peanuts into your child’s diet between the ages of 4-11 months.
This may prevent your baby from developing a peanut allergy in the long term.
Feed your baby peanuts only after they have had and tolerated other solid foods.
Give your baby small amounts of creamy peanut butter as early as 4-6 months if they are eating solid foods.
Avoid whole nuts and large amounts of peanut products.
Because peanuts are small and hard, they can pose a choking hazard for infants and toddlers.
Steer clear of giving your baby whole peanuts until they are older and able to chew and swallow the peanuts whole.
You should also avoid giving your baby large amounts of peanut products such as peanut butter to prevent choking.
Recognize that you should not give a child whole nuts until your child is four.
If you want to introduce nuts at a younger age, you should chop them into tiny pieces.
Provide a first taste of peanuts.
The best way to introduce your baby to peanuts is through peanut butter.
When your baby is comfortable with solid foods, give them a tiny bit of peanut butter on the tip of your finger.
A thin layer spread on your fingertip is enough to see if your baby reacts to it while minimize the risk of choking on larger amounts.
Only give your baby creamy or smooth peanut butter. Do not give them chunky peanut, which can be a choking hazard.
Give your baby their first taste of peanut butter at home so you can control the situation.
This may give you a bit more ease than letting your child have their first taste of peanuts at day care or in a restaurant.
Introduce more peanuts gradually.
Wait a few days before giving your baby another taste of peanut butter or a different peanut product.
This gives you the chance to see if your baby has any reaction before introducing more peanuts.
Wait at least 3 days before you give your baby any more peanut products. Only let your baby have more if you didn’t notice a reaction.
Offer peanut products in different ways.
You don’t need to stick to letting your baby lick peanut butter off of your finger.
Instead, you can try all sorts of different ways to introduce peanuts to your baby’s diet.
Some additional ways to offer your baby peanut products include:
Tossing noodles with a teaspoon of peanut butter
Blending a banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter
Mixing peanut butter thoroughly into your baby’s cereal, yogurt, or applesauce
Spreading a very thin layer of peanut butter on to a piece of toast or a cracker.
Stirring peanut butter into purees or smoothies
Watching for Potential Reactions
Recognize the signs of a severe reaction.
Although rare, peanuts are the most likely food to cause anaphylaxis, which causes the airways to swell and blood pressure to drop, and even death.
Paying attention to your baby’s behavior after eating peanuts or peanut products can help you quickly identify and get prompt treatment for a serious reaction.
This can minimize the risk of anaphylaxis or more serious complications.
Monitor for peanut allergy symptoms.
In most cases, your baby won’t have a severe reaction to peanuts.
But they may still have an allergic reaction to peanuts.
Just as it is important to watch for a severe reaction, you should also check your baby for other symptoms of a peanut allergy.
Common symptoms of a peanut allergy include:
- Rashes or hives
- Swelling around the mouth and face
- Abdominal cramps
- Sneezing or a stuffy nose
- Coughing or wheezing
- Itchy eyes
See your baby’s doctor
Most mild peanut allergy symptoms clear up after a few hours, especially with the help of an antihistamine.
If you recognize or suspect any signs or symptoms of a peanut allergy in your baby, call your pediatrician immediately.
Your doctor will let you know the best way to handle the reaction.
This might include giving your baby an antihistamine suitable for their age, providing you with an an epinephrine auto-injector (also known as an epi-pen), or teaching you how to avoid peanuts.
Make sure to give the doctor or their office any important information such as your baby’s symptoms and what the baby ate.
Consult your baby’s doctor before giving them an antihistamine for a reaction to peanuts.
If the condition worsens, seek emergency care.