Tips for safely introducing peanuts to your baby

Updated Apr 20, 2022
Peanut butter on bread

When it comes to feeding babies, peanuts tend to make a lot of caregivers nervous. We get it! They’re one of the top allergens as well as a choking risk. Both of those concerns are enough to make you ask yourself, should I really be serving peanuts to my child?

The answer is yes, as long as you take certain precautions! Knowledge is power, so keep reading to find out all you need to know about safely introducing peanuts and peanut products to your baby. 


IN THIS ARTICLE:


In 2015, a groundbreaking research study known as the LEAP trial changed what allergists and pediatricians understood about the risk of developing food allergies. The study showed that early introduction of peanuts among infants with a high risk for a peanut allergy actually lowers the frequency of developing one.

Prior to this research, later introduction of the top allergen foods, including peanuts, was recommended. 

Now, given the results of the LEAP trial, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies are introduced to peanuts and other top allergens around 6 months old, when they begin eating solid foods.

If you have a family history of food allergies or other risk factors, make sure to discuss introducing peanuts with your pediatrician. 

Most babies can be introduced to peanut products around 6 months of age, when they start solids. This includes peanut butter, powdered peanut butter, and peanut butter puffs. (Whole peanuts or peanut pieces are considered choking hazards until about age 3 or 4 years.) 

Yes and no! 6 to 9 month old babies can eat peanut butter and other peanut products, but they should not eat whole peanuts or peanut pieces. It’s best to offer peanut butter in small amounts for this age group.

Babies 9 - 12 months old can continue to eat peanut products — but not whole nuts. Continue to serve in small amounts. Babies at this age are able to pick up foods with their fingers and may enjoy peanut butter puffs.

Yep! Babies over 12 months can continue to eat peanut products and may enjoy peanut butter in more mixed foods such as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a peanut butter muffin.

Before introducing peanuts for the first time, make sure you get the go ahead from your pediatrician, especially if your baby is at a higher risk for a peanut allergy. We recommend starting with a small amount of peanut butter. If possible, choose one that is sugar-free and made with simple ingredients (just peanuts and maybe salt).

One of easiest ways to serve peanut butter for baby-led weaning is to spread it thinly on a piece of toast and then cut into pinky-sized strips. Pair with fruit for a balanced meal or snack. 

Peanut butter mixes well with a variety of purees including baby cereal, banana, or apple. You could also make a peanut butter puree by thinning it out with breast milk or formula. 

Introducing peanuts for the first time can be a bit stressful, even for those with a low risk of food allergies. Use the following tips to breathe a little easier. 

Offering peanuts earlier in the day allows you time to watch for signs of a reaction. Most reactions occur within 1 to 2 hours of consuming a food. 

It’s not recommended to serve peanut butter on its own due to its stickiness. Pair it with a food your baby has already been introduced to; if they have a reaction, you’ll know it’s likely from the peanut butter and not the other food.

Avoid introducing peanuts or peanut products if your baby isn’t feeling well. Symptoms from a cold or other illness could mask or be mistaken for signs of a food allergy. 

Food allergies can be tricky because they vary greatly in terms of how they present themselves. There is no set group of signs and symptoms that always occur with a food allergy, and the symptoms can vary from exposure to exposure as well. 

According the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are several common symptoms and signs of food allergies. They include:

  • Hives (red spots that look like mosquito bites)

  • Itchy skin rashes (eczema, also called atopic dermatitis)

  • Swelling

  • Sneezing

  • Wheezing

  • Throat tightness

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Pale skin

  • Light-headedness

  • Loss of consciousness

If you suspect your baby is having an allergic reaction to peanuts or peanut products, stop serving them immediately and call your pediatrician. They will guide you on what your next steps should be.

If your baby is having trouble breathing or is having a severe reaction, call 911 right away.

Peanut products can be a healthy addition to your baby’s diet when served in a safe and age-appropriate way. Peanut butter, for example, provides plant-based protein, energy-dense fats, and beneficial vitamins and minerals.

Peanut butter on toast with jelly heart on top

In addition to protein and fat, peanuts are rich in fiber that helps regulate bowel movements and build a healthy gut. Peanut products also contain B vitamins, folate, magnesium and vitamin E, all of which support optimal growth and development. 

Yes, whole peanuts and peanut pieces are choking hazards for babies and children under the age of 4 years. Other peanut products, such as peanut butter, should be served in small amounts due to their sticky texture.

Peanut products for babies FAQ

Q: Is 4 - 5 months old too young to give baby peanut products?

A:

 Babies can eat peanut products, such as peanut butter, when they start solids around 6 months. Check with your pediatrician to determine if your baby is ready for solids earlier than that, around 4 to 5 months.

Q: Are peanuts good for teething babies?

A:

 Many babies eat less during teething. Adding peanut butter to foods is a good way to add in protein and calories when their intake is down. Whole peanuts should not be given to babies, teething or not!

Q: What are some good recipes for serving peanut products to baby?

A:

 Peanut butter, powdered peanut butter, and peanut butter puffs are all great foods for introducing your baby to peanuts. Add peanut butter or powdered peanut butter to purees, smoothies, or oatmeal. Spread peanut butter thinly on toast, muffins, or easy-to-chew crackers.

Q: Are babies with eczema more prone to peanut allergies?

A:

 The American Academy of Pediatrics considers eczema to be an increased risk factor for food allergies. Therefore, some babies with eczema may be more prone to peanut allergies. Discuss your baby’s unique risk with your pediatrician and come up with a plan for introducing peanuts.

Note: The content on this site is for informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice from your doctor, pediatrician, or medical professional. If you have questions or concerns, you should contact a medical professional.