Q: I’ve heard it’s OK to give babies peanut butter to avoid allergies. Is this really a good idea for my son?
A: Yes, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases guidelines recommend giving babies peanut powder or peanut butter early on. These guidelines are in response to peanut allergies doubling over the past decade, when pregnant and nursing moms were asked to blacklist peanuts and avoid kids’ exposure until age three.
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Here’s how to introduce it safely:
- No history of eczema or egg allergy? Introduce after four months of age.
- Mild eczema? May introduce any time after four months, but recommended by six months of age.
- Severe eczema and/or egg allergy? Have your baby evaluated by a pediatrician or allergist first. If a blood/skin test is negative for peanut allergy, introduce between four and six months (which may prevent the allergy from developing).
Blend creamy peanut butter (two teaspoons up to three times per week) diluted in warm water, formula or breast milk into food. Alternately, add peanut flour to cereal. Stop immediately if itching, rash or vomiting occurs. Call 911.
No reaction? Make peanut butter a regular part of your baby’s diet. Peanut allergy can develop like wildfire if you skip it for even a few weeks. Also, be sure your baby tolerates typical foods such as cereals, fruits and vegetables before adding peanut butter.
— Allergist Sandra Hong, MD