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  • Denise Scott

When Can Babies Have Nut Butter and Which Kind?

I have stated in many posts that little ones should not have whole nuts before the age of four since these are a choking hazard. Nuts in the form of smooth nut butter are acceptable.

Photo of a variety of whole nuts which should not be given to children under four.

When is it safe to introduce nut butter to your baby, and how to do so? Can only nut butter be used? How much and how often? These questions and more will be answered here!

Know that peanuts and tree nuts can be food allergens, so proceed slowly. Nut butter can be introduced as early as 6 months, but should be in a small amount.

Picture of several types of nut butter and the nuts they derive from, including almond butter, peanut butter, and cashew butter. Nut butter is safe for infants.

Research shows that allergenic foods, introduced early in infancy, can be protective against food allergies. Because the immune system is still developing, the body does not recognize these foods as dangerous. This teaching differs dramatically from the past recommendation of delaying high-allergy foods until after 1-2 years. Not only is early introduction advocated, but also is sustained exposure. In other words, continuing to offer the new food several times a week for several months - as long as there is no reaction.

Observe your baby closely for any sign of an allergic reaction, such as

  • Coughing, wheezing, or choking

  • Vomiting

  • Rash to the face or body

  • Swelling of the lips or tongue

  • Sudden onset sneezing and congestion

  • Blood in the stool

  • Difficulty breathing

The recommendation for introducing high-allergy foods, including peanuts and tree nuts as nut butter, is to offer tiny amounts, starting with only ¼ teaspoon, progressing daily to more over the course of a week. A large amount can be a choking hazard since nut butter is sticky and hard to dissolve.

Only a single allergenic food should be introduced a week, so avoid offering peanut butter with other kinds of nut butter during the same week. If peanut butter is tolerated, a different nut butter (almond, cashew, soy nut, sunflower seed, hazelnut, etc.) can be offered the following week while continuing the initial nut butter offered, if tolerated.

Look for smooth varieties, not chunky, without added sugar, and with a low sodium content. Find one with the fewest ingredients.

Another way to introduce nuts is with items made with peanuts or other nuts, such as peanut puffs or peanut powder, sprinkled on baby food. You can also offer a baked item made with nut flour or stir nut butter into baby cereal or yogurt.

Peanut puffs, pictured here, are made with peanuts and offer another way to introduce peanuts.

Nuts offer many nutrients, including fiber, protein, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins. They can easily be incorporated into your child’s diet as nut butter but not as whole nuts until age four.

An exception to introducing nuts is if your baby has eczema or a known food allergy. Babies with eczema are at higher risk for peanut and tree nut allergies. They can still be introduced to nut butter during infancy, but this should be done under the advice of their pediatrician. Babies with severe eczema or a known reaction to another food may need to be tested first.

Eczema patches on a baby's cheeks. Babies with eczema are at higher risk for nut allergies.

If older siblings are in the household, be sure they understand that the baby cannot eat everything they eat. Lastly, I highly recommend parents learn infant CPR. Knowing what to do for a choking child is invaluable.

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