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When Should I Give my Baby Peanuts?

Introducing solid foods to your baby’s diet is an exciting time for many parents.  But with that also comes some worries about potential food allergies.  Some foods are a higher risk for allergies than others.  Peanuts, milk and eggs are some of the more common culprits.

Before starting medical school, I remember being told by relatives that we should avoid nuts and other common allergens until a baby is one year of age, but is this really true?

New Research Shows No Evidence For Delaying Introduction To Common Food Allergens

Delaying introduction of any specific food beyond 6 month of age will not prevent an allergy from occurring.  The Canadian Paediatric Society in association with the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology now recommend introduction of allergenic foods around 6 months of age.  They also recommend continuing to offer these foods regularly (2 to 3 times per week) to maintain a tolerance.

A review article published in Canadian Family Physician summarized the evidence for early introduction of peanuts.  Babies who have severe eczema or already have an egg allergy are at higher risk of developing peanut allergy. That risk drops if they are introduce to peanut as early as 4 months and eat it regularly until age 5.  

Wait Two Days Between Introducing New Foods

It is important to monitor your baby for signs of allergy after starting a new food.  Most allergic reactions to foods will occur within minutes of ingesting a new food. Some allergic reactions involving the gut can take up to several hours to manifest.  

Keep offering highly allergenic foods 2 to 3 times per week if your baby tolerates them.  Waiting two days between starting new foods will make it easier to identify which food may have caused a reaction if one appears.  

The Canadian Paediatric Society has a great handout for more detailed information for introduction of solid foods for your baby.  

How And When I Started Peanuts ?

I started Madi with peanut butter when she was around 5 months old.  She loved it right away, and is an avid peanut butter lover still.  I found the easiest way to give her peanut butter as an infant was to add some to her iron-fortified cereal.  Another easy way to give peanut butter is to add 2 tsp of peanut butter to 2 to 3 tbsp of hot water, mix it to a smoothie like consistency and give it once it’s cooled.

This post was co-authored by Stephanie Liu, MD, MSc, CCFP, BHSc and Erin Manchuk, BScPharm, BCGP .

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