15 Jun Introducing Peanuts in Infancy
By Toby Amidor, MS, RDN
The threat of food allergies plagues anyone who spends time around children. Peanut allergies, specifically, have recently received much attention in the news. While only 1-2% of children have a peanut allergy, it’s usually severe and lifelong, making it a fear for most new parents.
Previous guidelines warned against introducing peanuts too early in a child’s diet, but new guidelines have recently been issued. The National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) now recommends introducing peanut protein to infants between 4-6 months of age, depending on risk, to prevent peanut allergies. This advice is based on results from a recent groundbreaking clinical trial.
The infant’s risk factors:
-Low risk: No history of eczema or egg allergy. Babies in this group should be introduced to peanuts between 4-6 months of age, at home.
-Moderate risk: Babies who have mild to moderate eczema. These babies can also be given peanut products between 4-6 months of age at home without the supervision of a physician.
-High risk: Children with severe eczema or an egg allergy. Peanuts should be introduced between 4-6 months of age, typically after they have been screened by either a blood or skin prick test and introduction can either be done at home or under the supervision of their physician.
Two teaspoons of peanut butter or peanut butter powder can be given as often as possible for babies who are at low or moderate risk.. For babies at high risk, the guidelines recommend offering peanut based foods at least 3 times a week.
While whole peanuts and peanut butter should never be given to infants due to a choking risk, here are some safe ways you can offer peanuts to your baby:
- Peanut butter thinned with warm water
- Peanut butter or peanut powder mixed well into cereal or tolerated fruits or vegetable purees
- Peanut butter or powder mixed in with yogurt, if already tolerated
- Bamba peanut snacks or teething biscuits
Bottom line: Every baby is different and you should always speak to your physician before introducing solid food or peanuts into your child’s diet. But delayed introduction of peanuts no longer seems to be necessary and early introduction may even reduce the risk of a peanut allergy. According to pediatric Dietitian, Jill Castle, MS, RD, LDN, Babies without eczema, who have mild eczema, and who have no egg allergy can start eating age-appropriate peanut products at around 6 months of age. Even babies with eczema and an egg allergy might be able to eat peanut products as a means of preventing peanut allergy, if parents check with their allergist first and test for peanut allergy risk level.”