Written By Else Team
Reviewed By: Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD
Lauren specializes in plant-based living and vegan and vegetarian diets for all ages. She specializes in writing about parenting and a wide variety of health, environmental, and nutrition topics.
Did you know that three million people in the United States are allergic to peanuts and tree nuts? In fact, a peanut allergy is the most common food allergy among children.
Before scientists understood the pathophysiology behind allergies, common allergies like those to peanuts were common. However, as more research and knowledge have been acquired, the scientific community is finding ways to help reduce the incidence of these kinds of allergies.
With the right approach, you may be able to lessen the risk, or completely prevent, your children from developing a peanut allergy.
Read on to learn more about safely introducing peanut butter to babies.
When Can Parents Start Giving Baby Peanut Butter?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents should start giving baby peanut butter at about six months. This is around the same time that the child should start being introduced to solid foods.
It used to be recommended to wait to introduce peanuts until a child turned a year old.
However, research has shown that waiting this long can actually have the opposite effect, increasing the likelihood that a child will have an adverse reaction to peanuts.
How to Introduce Peanut Butter to Baby
Before you start giving your baby peanut butter, you should figure out which category of allergy risk they fall into. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, there are three categories to consider:
- Your child has severe eczema and/or an egg allergy
- Your child has mild or moderate eczema
- Your child has no signs of eczema or food allergies
You can determine whether or not your child has eczema by looking for patches of dry, itchy skin. If they're present, your child may have the condition.
If your child falls into the first category, you should talk with your child's pediatrician about peanut butter for babies. They may want to test your child for a peanut allergy before introducing them to the potential allergen. They may also want to introduce the food while the child is in the office where they can get medical intervention if necessary.
If your child falls into the second category, you should talk to your doctor to see what they recommend. However, it's most likely safe to introduce peanuts around six months of age.
Lastly, if your child falls into the third category, you should be able to offer your child peanut products soon after they start eating solids. At this time, you can start introducing other foods as well.
If you have concerns about your child's well-being, you should always refer to your pediatrician. Most of these healthcare providers would be happy to let you introduce peanut products while you and your child are in the office.
How to Avoid Choking With Peanut Products
The best way to prevent choking is to avoid feeding your child whole peanuts. Peanuts in their whole form are a choking hazard up until 4 or 5 years old. You should also avoid giving your child chunky peanut butter as it could be difficult for them to swallow.
We also recommend that you avoid giving full spoonfuls of peanut butter to your child. The consistency can cause the child to get peanut butter stuck in their mouths, which can also become a choking hazard. Instead, you can thin peanut butter out using water, and use it as a drizzle instead.
The Best Ways to Introduce and Serve Peanut Butter to Babies
Depending on your child's preferences, you'll start to form routines and recipes that work for them. However, when you're first starting out, you may need to try different kinds of foods to see what your child likes.
There are plenty of peanut butter recipes for babies online, but here are some of our favorite ways to expose babies to this food:
- Peanut butter puree
- Peanut butter puffs
- Peanut butter toast
- Peanut butter powder
Whenever you serve peanut butter, you should make sure it's smooth and thin as mentioned above.
In the beginning, you should avoid chunky peanut butter and whole peanuts. Both are choking hazards.
Let's jump into some great recipes for your children!
1. Peanut Butter Puree
Peanut butter puree for babies is very nutritious. It contains healthy fats and proteins and is super easy to make.
To make peanut butter puree, all you need is creamy peanut butter and water. The water helps fluff the peanut butter, turning it into a yogurt-like consistency.
Add peanut butter and a little bit of water into a bowl and stir them together. The amount of peanut butter you'll need will depend on how much your child eats and how much you'd like to keep in the fridge later. The amount of water that you'll use will depend on the consistency that you want the peanut butter to be.
To make the ingredients easier to stir, use room-temperature peanut butter and lukewarm water.
As you're preparing the food, keep adding water until you get the creamy consistency that you want. If you're unsure of the consistency that you want, you should keep adding water until the mixture is no longer thick or sticky.
One of the best parts about this meal is that you can store any leftovers that you have in the fridge for up to five days.
2. Peanut Butter Puffs
Peanut butter puffs are a store-bought item that allows your kids to chow down without any meal-time prep from you. You can find these snacks at your local grocery store or online stores like Amazon. The most popular brand is Bamba Puffs.
Bamba Puffs come in a great size for babies. They are big enough that your baby can suck on them but small enough that they pose less of a choking risk. They also dissolve in your baby's mouth.
Some other newer brands include Earth's Best and Puff Works Baby.
3. Peanut Butter Toast
Peanut butter toast is another great snack for your baby as you're introducing them to peanuts. All you need to do is spread a thin layer of peanut butter on a piece of toast, or create a thin peanut sauce and use it as a drizzle on strips of toast.
Be sure to cut the peanut butter toast into pieces that are at least as big as your finger. You want to make sure that the pice is too big for the baby to choke on. If the piece is larger, they're going to be less likely to try to shove the entire thing in their mouth.
To prevent pieces of the bread from getting stuck to the roof of your child's mouth, you should lightly toast the bread. You don't want the bread to be too hard or too soft.
4. Peanut Butter Powder
Lastly, we want to introduce peanut butter powder for babies. To make peanut butter powder, you just need to grind the nuts into powder. You can do this using a food processor or you can mash them up manually with a fork.
Once you've got fine pieces of peanuts, you can sprinkle this powder onto other foods like oatmeal.
If you're going to do this the first time that you introduce your baby to peanuts, you should make sure there aren't any other potential allergens in the dish. If your baby has a reaction, you want to be confident that the peanuts are the culprit.
Advice to Parents Who Are Giving Baby Peanut Butter
Start introducing other solids to your baby before peanut butter. We highly recommend that you begin with foods that are of low allergy risk. You may want to start with baby oatmeal, cereal, bananas, applesauce, and pureed vegetables.
Introduce one new food at a time so that you can see how your baby reacts to that food in particular. Wait two to three days before you introduce another food to your child.
After you introduce a new food, you should check your child for any signs of intolerance and allergic reaction:
- Throat tightness
- Pale skin
- Loss of consciousness
If any of these reactions occur, stop giving your child that food and let your child's pediatrician know. If you believe that your child is going into anaphylactic shock, a serious condition in which they stop breathing, you should call 911 immediately.
Once your child has been able to tolerate the first few solid foods that you've introduced him/her to, you should start to venture into higher-risk foods. If you have reason to believe that your child may be allergic to these kinds of foods, you should consult your pediatrician before exposing them to these foods.
Highly allergenic foods include the following:
- Tree Nuts
No matter the food that you're going to feed your baby, you should make sure that it's in an appropriate form.
What to Do When an Allergic Reaction Occurs
Food allergies in children can range from mild to severe. Your child may experience a reaction directly after they've ingested an allergen or a while after doing so, depending on the kinds of symptoms that they have.
If your child suffers from anaphylaxis, he/she will experience several symptoms at once. These may include skin reactions, swollen tongue or lips, runny nose and sneezing, wheezing, and nausea, among others. This can be life-threatening.
If you believe that your child is having an anaphylactic reaction, you need to make sure that you take him/her to the nearest emergency room to get medical treatment as soon as possible.
If you do find that your child has a particular allergy, you should make an appointment with their pediatrician or an allergist. Specialized medical professionals can help determine the cause and treatment for specific kinds of allergies and their reactions.
Frequently Asked Questions About Peanut Butter for Babies
Often, even with all of the information that several organizations offer, parents feel lost about what kind of nutrition to offer their children.
Here, we've lined up some of the most frequently asked questions. These range from timing concerns to the introduction of peanut butter for babies.
Why Should I Introduce Peanut Butter Early?
Introducing peanut products early in your baby's life can help the immune system recognize the peanuts earlier. This means that your child is less likely to have an adverse reaction to the food.
In some children, early introduction of peanuts can lessen their future reaction to the food product.
In some children, early exposure can completely get rid of the reaction altogether.
When in doubt, you should ask your pediatrician where to start when it comes to peanut butter products for your child.
What Should I Do Before Giving Peanut Products to My Baby for the First Time?
First, you should talk to your child's pediatrician to make sure that he/she knows that you're planning on introducing peanut butter to your child. The pediatrician may have different recommendations. There could even be a red flag that you don't know about, such as signs of eczema.
If your baby does have these kinds of signs, your child may need an allergy test. You may also need to see a pediatric allergist help your child grow out of these kinds of allergies.
How Do I Introduce Peanut Products to My Child?
Make sure that you're introducing peanuts into your child's diet when they're healthy. Otherwise, you're not going to know what symptoms to look out for in association with their illness or their potential reaction. It also ensures that their immune system will be okay to fight against a reaction if there is any problem with the peanuts.
If your child is displaying a fever, diarrhea, vomiting, or similar symptoms, hold off on introducing any kinds of new foods.
Unless otherwise directed by your child's physician, your child should be trying peanut products for the first time while they're at home. Some children may have their first taste while in a pediatric clinic to ensure that they get medical care in case something happens.
You should make sure that you aren't giving their first taste while they're in a restaurant, at daycare, or in another public place where you can’t supervise closely or access medical care urgently if needed.
Shop for Your Baby
No matter whether you're getting ready to introduce peanut butter for babies or another food, you want to make sure that you're giving your child the very best of everything that you can give them. We know that parents are concerned about the nutrition of their children, especially with all of the snacks and food available for kids today.
Our family at Else is dedicated to making plant-based complete, whole food-based nutrition for toddlers and kids.
With our products in your kitchen, you'll know that your child will have access to an organic, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, corn syrup-free, non-GMO option for their health.
The content and advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment, advice for specific medical conditions. Always consult a pediatrician to understand the individual needs of your child.