When can babies have peanut butter? Although it’s a very common and dangerous allergen, there’s a compelling reason to introduce peanuts to your baby.
Peanut allergies are one of the most common food allergies in kids, but new research suggests up to 80 percent of these allergies can be avoided if introduced early. Of course, this begs the question: How early? When can babies have peanut butter?
When Can Babies Have Peanut Butter?
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization, recommend that mothers exclusively breastfeed babies until the age of six months. After that point, solid foods can be introduced, whether you opt for purees or baby-led weaning. Until then, breastfeeding meets all of the nutritional needs for a baby.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, it’s safe and even encouraged to introduce peanut butter at the six month mark. In fact, waiting to introduce peanut butter can increase your baby’s risk of developing an allergy. (source)
The National Institutes of Health has also issued an addendum to support the most current research on early introduction as a method of preventing peanut allergies. (source)
There’s one caveat. If your baby is at risk for a peanut allergy…
If your baby is at risk for developing a peanut allergy, be sure to check in with your pediatrician before introducing an allergenic food.
Who is at risk?
Babies with eczema are most at risk for developing food allergies. Specifically, up to 40 percent of babies with moderate to severe eczema will develop food allergies. (source) If this sounds like your child, they may benefit from an allergy test prior to early introduction.
Why Is It Important to Give Baby Peanut Butter?
Just as important as when can babies have peanut butter is why should babies have peanut butter. Early introduction to peanut butter can reduce the chance of your baby developing a peanut allergy by up to 80 percent. (source)
About three million Americans have nut allergies, and unfortunately, nut allergies are often serious and rarely outgrown. (source) That means your best chance at preventing a food allergy is early and sustained exposure.
Because whole nuts are a no-go, that leaves just peanut butter as your option for introducing this allergen.
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How to Introduce Peanut Butter Safely
Now that you know when can babies have peanut butter and why it’s so important to have early, there’s one question left to answer: how should you introduce peanuts to a baby?
Consider using a program like Ready, Set, Food!
Do not introduce whole peanuts, either plain or in a trail mix, to babies under four years of age—whole nuts are a choking hazard. Peanut butter spreads, especially chunky versions, can also be a choking hazard. So what’s a mama to do?
A program like Ready, Set, Food! is the safest and easiest way to introduce the top three allergens (peanuts, cow’s milk, and eggs) to your baby.
Simply pour pre-measured packet into a bottle (breast milk or formula), and feed baby as normal. You can use this program for six months, or more, depending on when baby begins regularly eating peanut products.
If you prefer, you can give baby a high-quality smooth organic peanut butter. Just be sure to thin it out. Here are some suggestions:
- Add a small amount of peanut butter to breast milk or formula, then stir it into oatmeal.
- Mix a little peanut butter into chicken stock or bone broth.
- Whip peanut butter and plain whole milk Greek yogurt to make a “dip” for fruit.
Introduce only one new food at a time, every 3-5 days. This allows you to pinpoint which food causes a reaction, should a reaction develop).
Continue to offer peanut butter to your baby regularly. Sustained exposure is just as important as early exposure when it comes to preventing allergies. (source)
How to choose a high quality peanut butter once baby is regularly eating solids
Not all peanut butter is created equally. Splurging on a high quality jar is really important.
- Skip the chunky varieties. Those crunchy peanut pieces may be yummy, but they are a choking hazard for babies under four years of age.
- Take a hard pass on any conventional jar. Many jars of peanut butter contain sugar, partially hydrogenated oils, and even high fructose corn syrup.
When scanning labels, look for a peanut butter that is:
- Limited in ingredients: The fewer ingredients the better. (You might even want to try the freshly ground peanut butter you can get at stores like Whole Foods.)
- Free of any sugar product
This is a great option. It’s organic, made of just peanuts and salt, and tastes great.
Although it can be scary introducing such well-known allergens to your child, remember that the latest research proves that early introduction is is the surest way to prevent food allergies. Just go slow and try to have fun with it! And if you’re apprehensive, try a product like Ready, Set, Food!—it’s the gentlest and safest way to introduce allergens.