Parents are often worried about introducing peanuts or tree nuts to their babies because of the risk of having an allergic reaction. Dr Sophie is here to answer your most frequently asked questions.
What benefits do nuts have?
Peanuts are abundant in healthy fats, fibre and vitamins, such as Vitamins B and E. Tree nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazel nuts, macadamia, pecans, pistachios and walnuts) also provide your little one with plenty of micronutrients, such as phosphorus, manganese or selenium.
When should I introduce nuts?
The best time to introduce nuts is from 6 months onwards. Research has shown that introducing peanuts and tree nuts from 6 months onwards actually decreases the risk of developing an allergy against them. Delaying their introduction on the other hand might increase the risk.
If your little one is at a higher risk to develop a peanut allergy because they have severe eczema, they might benefit from an even earlier introduction of peanuts between 4 and 6 months of age. This is something you should discuss with your health professional.
Is my baby at an increased risk for a nut allergy?
Children with eczema and/or egg allergy are at increased risk of developing other food allergies. Children with a peanut allergy have a 30-40% increased risk of developing an allergy to tree nuts, as well. If your little one is allergic to one type of tree nut, they might also react to other types, as nuts are closely related to each other. This is called cross-reactivity.
What is a good way to introduce nuts?
Nut butters are an excellent way to introduce peanuts or tree nuts. I would opt for a nut butter, which contains 100% nuts and no additional salt, sugar or other nasties. Your little one will love a thin layer of nut butter on toast or a slice of banana. You can also mix some nut butter into yogurt or your morning porridge.
Children under the age of 5 should never eat whole nuts, as this might pose a risk of choking.
Did you know that making your own nut butter is super easy?
Just put any nuts you like into a high-speed blender or food processor and blend them for about 8 - 10 minutes. You can add seeds or a little bit of cocoa powder to vary the taste. For example, peeled hazelnuts and cocoa powder make a great home-made and sugar-free version of Nutella!