Research shows introducing peanut butter to babies at an early age can help prevent allergies. Here are some simple ways to introduce peanut butter to infants.
Introducing peanut butter to babies is one of my favorite parenting adventures. While it’s fun to start your journey with solids, introducing the top 8 allergens is often a bit scary. It’s been a hot topic in parenting for a while now, likely because the current recommendations are MUCH different than they were even just 5 years ago. The previous recommendation was to introduce the top 8 allergens until a child was at least a year old. That meant avoiding peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, milk, soy and eggs for the first year of life.
However, in early 2015, just as I was getting ready to start feeding my first baby solids, a growing body of research supporting earlier introduction. I started working my way through the top 8 allergens as soon as he started solids at 5.5 months and peanuts were one of the first we introduced. Peanut allergies are on the rise and have definitely gotten the most media attention in recent years. Most schools are peanut-free at this point but the hope is is that people will utilize the new guidelines for introducing peanuts at an earlier age and that the prevalence of peanut allergies will start to decrease.
As you get ready to start solids, be aware of the current recommendations for introducing peanut butter to babies:
- For the highest risk infants, those with severe eczema or egg allergy, peanut allergy testing is recommended. This group should be introduced to peanuts in an infant safe way (under the supervision of a doctor) as early as 4-6 months of age.
- Babies with mild to moderate eczema, also at increased risk, should be introduced to peanuts around 6 months of age.
- Infants without eczema or other food allergies, who are not at increased risk, should be introduced to peanuts freely along with all other solid foods around 6 months of age. Ie, no need to do it early, but don’t wait until they’re one. Just start introducing at the same time they start solids, whenever they are developmentally ready.
If an early introduction is needed, before babies are developmentally ready for solids, a small amount of powdered peanut butter can be mixed with formula or breast milk and put it in a bottle. Remember, this would be something you would work closely with your doctor on.
In addition, before introducing any solids to your child, familiarize yourself with the signs of an allergic reaction, watch children closely during and after introduction and seek medical attention if needed. More on food allergies and allergic reactions here.
Introducing Peanut Butter to Babies
Here are some simple ideas for introducing peanut butter to babies. Be sure your child is developmentally ready for solids (sitting unassisted, showing interest in food, etc):
- Make oatmeal or baby cereal and stir in peanut butter or powdered peanut butter.
- Cut sweet potato into fries and roast until soft. Mix peanut butter with a little bit of water to thin it out and serve as a dip for the fries.
- Cut a banana into chunks. Warm peanut butter until it’s easy to stir. Dip banana chunks in peanut butter, place on a baking sheet and freeze. Place in a mesh or silicone pouch and let baby suck on it. We like this silicone feeder from Boon (affiliate link)
- Mix mashed sweet potato, prunes and peanut butter and spoon into small popsicle molds to freeze. We use these Nuby popsicle molds (aff link)
- Mix applesauce and breast milk or formula with powdered peanut butter and serve with a spoon.
- Try Bambas or other peanut puffs.
- Add a little peanut butter to any pureed fruits or veggies.
- Spread thinly on soft crackers or toast.
- Mix peanut butter into pancake batter and cut pancakes into strips when serving.
- Try this recipe for Peanut Butter Teething Biscuits from the National Peanut Board
Since tree nuts are another of the top 8 allergens, you’ll want to expose your babies to a wide variety of nuts. Try these suggestions with almond, walnut or cashew butter too! You could also use things like pesto, cashew “cheese”, nut-based dipping sauces and African Peanut Stew to introduce peanuts and tree nuts!
As babies continue on their journey with solids, continue to expose them to the top 8 allergens! I love adding peanut butter to my baked goods like muffins and bars for a dose of healthy fats!