Halloween is right around the corner, and it’s a time for children to have fun dressing in character, trick or treating, and having festive classroom parties at school. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, cousin, aunt or uncle, you may know someone who is allergic to peanuts. Your school district may have even gone “peanut free” as a result of the incidence of allergy or reported allergy.
Did you know that early introduction of peanuts to infants will reduce the chance of future allergy?
A study called Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP Study) found that introducing peanut protein at four to six month of age can help reduce the chance of babies developing a peanut allergy by about 75%. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics, has created new guidelines for introducing peanut products to children.
Your pediatrician will assess the best age to introduce peanut protein to your child, although it’s typically between four to six months. It doesn’t have to be a big portion, but just an introduction of a small amount of peanut protein. This can be done with just a teaspoon or two of peanut butter. (Whole peanuts however are a choking hazard, so they should be avoided). You can even start with just a tiny bit of peanut butter (the size of a pea) on your (clean) finger to serve to baby.
Here are some easy ideas to begin incorporating small amounts of peanut butter or peanut powder into your child’s beverage or meals through the week:
- Add 2 teaspoons peanut powder to oatmeal or rice cereal.
- Make your own teething biscuits – like these from the National Peanut Board.
- Stir two teaspoons of peanut butter into pureed meats or a pureed vegetable your child already enjoys.
- Once your child is able to handle whole, soft fruits you can spread a thin amount of peanut butter onto pieces of apple, pear, or banana (or at an earlier age, you can mash the banana with a teaspoon of peanut butter).
- Incorporate Peanut Puff snacks into your child’s diet. These are a treat – not something to eat every day, but a they are tasty and fun way to get some peanut into the diet.
- Stir two teaspoons of peanut butter into chopped, hot noodles, stir until blended. Cool before serving.
By introducing peanut products to your child as part of their first foods, there’s a better chance you’ll avoid the challenge of allergy. Talk to your pediatrician and dietitian about introducing new foods to your baby, and for more information about early feeding.