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When Can I Give My Child Peanut Butter?

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Peanut butter can be a healthy food for toddlers if there's no history of allergies.

Peanut butter can be a healthy food for toddlers if there's no history of allergies.

Jason Tromm / Flickr
Question: When Can I Give My Child Peanut Butter?
A reader asks:
When is it safe to give my child peanut butter? My daughter is a year old and is eating most of what we eat, so I was wondering if it's safe yet.
Answer: Peanut butter can be a healthy addition to the diet as soon as you're ready to introduce solids foods. See more on introducing solid foods and food allergies. Just be sure to avoid giving big spoonfuls of peanut butter and never give children under 3 years of age whole peanuts because these pose a choking hazard.

Research on the effects of timing of introducing peanuts has had conflicting results. A large study in Isreal, where peanuts are a first food often introduced when babies are less than 4 months old, has found that early introduction of peanut protein actually decreases the risk of developing a peanut allergy. Some studies have found that eating peanuts while pregnant may increase the risk of a peanut allergy for children, others have found the opposite. So, the NASID food allergy guidelines and the AAP do not reccommend delaying the introduction of peanut products to reduce allergy risk.

With all that said, be aware that a peanut allergy can be severe, lifelong and potentially deadly. Look for signs of an allergic reaction such as:

  • hives
  • difficulty breathing or asthma symptoms
  • swelling of the mouth or throat
  • vomiting or diarrhea
  • loss of consciousness

These signs can appear in just minutes or they make take hours, so be watchful during this time and do not wait to call 9-1-1 or your health care provider. Call immediately!

If you are concerned about your child having a peanut allergy, the only real way to avoid the danger is to avoid peanuts and peanut butter altogether. But be aware that for the majority of children, there is no danger.

Do you have a question you'd like to see answered? You can send your questions to me at babyparenting@aboutguide.com and I will answer them here on the site.

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