Introducing baby to new foods, sounds fun, but can be scary for the parents, especially in the case of potential allergens such as nuts and peanuts.
It makes parents really nervous while introducing new food to the kids.
Can Introducing Nuts To The Child Early Could Prevent Nut Allergy
Introducing nuts to the kids in the early years of their life is believed to prevent nut allergies.
A study found that in Israel, infants were fed peanuts very early. This is why peanut allergy was rare .(1) The prevalence of nut allergy was found to be just 0.17% compared with 1.14 percent in the United States and 1.7% in the United Kingdom.
A randomized trial of the effect of peanut consumption on infants in the early months found that introducing peanut-containing foods to infants between 4-11 months reduced the chances of developing the allergy by 80 percent. (2)
It might be because the immune system is developing at that time. Introducing highly allergic food at this time can make the immune system trained to recognize them as friendly and not as a threat.
Not doing it, may lead the immune system to perceive nuts as dangerous and overreact, resulting in an allergic reaction.
This is the reason why, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the National Institute of Health (NIH), and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), have changed the guideline for the parent on the introduction of nuts. (3, 4, 5)
When Should You Introduce Nuts To The Babies?
Unless the baby has a history of an allergic reaction to food, nuts can be introduced shortly after introducing solids i.e. as early as 4-6 months.
Once you start with them and the child doesn’t get any allergy, be consistent. Do not stop giving it. Studies show sustained exposure is as important as introducing allergens early.
What Is The Best Way To Give Nuts To Babies?
There are many ways in which nuts can be given to babies.
- You can give the baby peanut puffs, which are like Cheetos and can get easily dissolved in the mouth or other baby foods.
- You can also sprinkle the nuts powder on the baby food. You can also bake the baby food with nut flours.
- Nut butter such as almond butter and peanut butter are also great options, but you need to be very careful while giving them to the baby. Nut butter is very thick and sticky and its large globs could lead to choking hazards.
- You can spread the nut butter on a soft cracker, strip of banana, stir them into oatmeal or add them to yogurt.
Whatever way you introduce them, make sure you start with a small amount, as you might not know how the baby would react.
Nutritional Benefits Of Nuts
Nuts are a good source of fats and are good for the growth and development of babies. They are also known to be a very good source of protein and fiber.
- Walnuts contain omega-3 fats that are important for the development of the brain and eyes.
- Cashews are a good source of omega-3 fats, copper, magnesium, and amino acids. All these are required for cell growth.
- Almonds are a great source of fiber, plant-based protein, and monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, calcium, iron, and zinc.
- Peanuts are an amazingly good source of fat, iron, protein, and micronutrients such as zinc, vitamin E, and vitamin B. All these nutrients protect a child’s heart, supports metabolism, and help with brain development.
How To Look For An Allergic Reaction In Babies?
If a child is allergic to nuts there would be an allergic reaction within minutes after eating them.
The symptoms that would be experienced by the child are:
- Skin redness
- Swelling of lips and tongue
- Shortness of breath
- Pale skin
- Loss of consciousness
- Trouble breathing
- Sneezing or stuffy nose
If there are mild reactions, call a pediatrician. If the symptoms are severe, immediately call for emergency service.