How to Introduce Peanut to Baby
By Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz
Are you confused about when and how to offer peanuts to your baby? In this blog I will teach you how to prepare peanuts for safe consumption, plus why it’s so important to do so early and often.
Why introduce peanut protein? When I started as a therapist in the 1990’s, research suggested that parents and therapists should wait to offer peanuts (in any texture form) until after the baby’s first birthday. Later, I was taught that I could introduce peanuts to a baby before their first birthday, but we would have to wait 3-5 days before offering the baby another food.
Current research shows that delaying introduction of peanut protein can actually increase the risk of an allergic reaction. In fact, peanut allergy is currently one of the most common pediatric food allergies. These last few years I have implemented the new guidelines, which state that you should feed babies peanut protein early and often. Research shows that providing peanut protein with this cadence is key in preventing peanut allergy. It should be noted that the research was done with food (not with powder supplements). So, as long as your baby is 6 months of age + showing the signs of readiness to eat, you can offer your baby peanut protein in delicious food form – skip the artificial peanut powders! Here is a quick summary of the do’s and don’ts:
- DON’T delay the introduction of peanut protein
- DO introduce early and often
- DO offer peanut protein in food form
What are the risk factors for peanut allergy? The three risk factors for your baby having a peanut allergy are: 1. if they have eczema 2. if they have an egg allergy 3. or if they have both eczema and an egg allergy. If your baby has had eczema once before, that does not place your baby at high risk for a peanut allergy. The research shows that eczema has to be severe in nature (not just a mild case) in order to be a significant risk factor. And if your baby has an egg allergy there is potentially a higher possibility for a peanut allergy. The risk factors for a peanut allergy are designated in three categories:
- High Risk: Baby is at high risk if they have severe eczema AND egg allergy
- Medium Risk: Baby is at mild to moderate risk if they have eczema but NO egg allergy
- Low Risk: Baby is at low risk if they do not have eczema or an egg allergy
If your baby is going to have an allergic reaction to peanut protein, it will occur within a few minutes or a few hours after they eat it. This timeline will help you rule out potential complications. To make you feel more comfortable with serving potentially allergenic foods, have another family member with you while you offer the food and talk to your pediatrician about possible medications in case a reaction occurs.
When to Introduce Peanut Protein: The National Institutes for Health recommend early introduction of peanut protein (between 4-6 months) for babies that are at high risk for peanut allergy. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also recommends introducing peanuts before twelve months of age. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) state that babies should only have breastmilk or formula until they are six months of age. This body of research and medical recommendations show that we can safely begin to offer peanut protein (in food form) to babies at six months of age.
I encourage parents to start peanut protein by eating food at 6 months of age vs. in powder form at the 4-month mark. I have worked with many families that used peanut protein powders in their baby’s bottles between 4-6 months, only to have their baby refuse to drink from a bottle again (whether peanut protein powder was added to the bottle or not). Unfortunately, these babies required medical intervention / weekly feeding therapy and/or a feeding tube. The risk factors for a peanut allergy and ages to introduce it are designated in three categories:
- High Risk Babies: Can safely start peanut protein foods at 6 months with supervision of your pediatrician or allergy specialist. Continue to introduce peanut protein often.
- Medium Risk Babies: Can safely start peanut protein foods at 6 months. Continue to introduce peanut protein often.
- Low Risk Babies: Can safely start peanut protein foods at 6 months. Continue to introduce peanut protein often.
How to Safely Introduce Peanut Protein: Offering whole nuts, chopped nuts or a spoonful of peanut butter are all high choking risks for a baby. Here are a few ways to safely offer peanuts to your baby.
- Puffs: I like to introduce babies to a peanut puff called Puffworks, which is an organic peanut butter product made specifically for babies. It is plant based, gluten free, vegan and dissolves easily in your baby’s mouth. The size, weight and texture of the puff is much safer for your baby to chew and swallow (even without teeth) than other puffs on the market.
- Puree: You can thin out smooth (not chunky) peanut butter by blending it with yogurt to make a puree. You can offer this mixture by preloading the ezpz Tiny Spoon and handing it to your baby. Be sure to offer yogurt by itself a few times before blending it with peanut, as yogurt is also a potentially allergenic food.
- Smoothie: A smoothie is another way to offer peanuts to your baby. In a blender mix breastmilk (or formula), smooth peanut butter and some full fat yogurt. Place the smoothie in the ezpz Tiny Cup and offer small sips to your little one.
Peanut is a food I always offer in the first month of baby-led weaning and continue to offer each month. Now that you know how to safely prepare it, I hope it will be one of your baby’s favorite tastes! #ezpzfun
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 26 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning Tiny Cup & Tiny Spoon (for infants) and the Mini Cup + Straw Training System & Mini Utensils (for toddlers).