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Peanut Butter for Babies and Children

How to choose the best peanut butter to introduce to your baby, the best choices for children, and the benefits of early introduction of peanut butter before 12 months of age.


How to choose the best peanut butter to introduce to your baby:

These days we are introducing peanut butter before 12 months of age, it is important to look at the ingredients in peanut butter before you introduce it to your baby. Peanut butter can be a source of added sugar, it can be high in added salt, and also a source of added vegetable oils and additives, all of which we should be limiting or avoiding in babies.


What to look out for:

  • Look for peanut butter with no added sugar, some brands can contain more than 1/2 a teaspoon of added sugar per serve.

  • Look for peanut butter that is low in sodium (<120 mg per 100g) or lower in sodium (<400mg per 100g)

  • Some peanut butter can contain added vegetable oils and additives/preservatives.




Better Peanut Butter Choices



Peanut butter is a common food allergen

Introducing peanut butter to babies before 12 months of age can potentially reduce the risk of developing peanut allergies later in life. This recommendation stems from studies such as the Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) trial, which found that introducing peanuts early in life, significantly reduced the risk of peanut allergy in high-risk infants. The results showed that children who started eating peanuts before one year of age and kept regularly eating peanuts until 5 years of age, had less peanut allergy when compared to a group of children who did not eat peanuts until age 5.


The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) recommends for all infants, including those with severe eczema and/or existing food allergies, peanuts should be introduced around 6 months (not before 4 months) and in the first 12 months, when developmentally ready for solids.


Some infants will develop peanut allergy despite following ASCIA guidelines, it is important to sit with your child and observe them when you are introducing peanut butter, and to introduce peanut butter gradually starting with a small amount and increasing if tolerated, being sure to introduce peanut butter for the first few times away from other common food allergens. If there is an allergic reaction at any step, stop feeding peanuts to the infant and seek medical advice.


Once introduced and tolerated it is recommended to continue regular peanut intake.


How do you serve peanuts and peanut butter to babies?

All nuts, nut pieces, and nut butter are choking hazards for babies and children.

Peanut butter can be a choking risk for babies and children if served directly by a spoonful or in thick sticky clumps.


< 12 months old

Choose smooth peanut butter, which can be thinned out with water, or mixed in well with pureed or mashed foods, like fruit or vegetable purees, oats or even yoghurt. You can also spread peanut butter thinly on toast strips, it can help if you also butter the toast first.


12-24 months

Choose smooth peanut butter, which can be added directly to foods or continue to spread thinly on toast, in sandwiches or with other foods like crumpets or rice cakes.


>24 months

You can begin to use crunchy peanut butter and be more liberal in how thick you spread peanut butter. Remember all children can develop skills for foods and textures at differing rates.


x Anna


For more on starting solids and introducing all 9 common food allergens check out my starting solids guide, with recipes included for each food allergen and loaded with tips and resources.



If your child has existing food allergy or multiple food allergies it is important to seek advice from a paediatric dietitian. Comprehensive dietitian assessment and education are crucial in food allergy management in children. Excluding foods from a child’s diet can make it difficult to meet their nutrition needs. Dietitians specialise in nutrition and allergy assessment and education on allergen avoidance, meeting nutrition requirements, substituting foods, recipe modification, and planning for school or childcare.




References:

Du Toit G, Roberts G, Sayre PH, Bahnson HT, Radulovic S, Santos AF, Brough HA, Phippard D, Basting M, Feeney M, Turcanu V, Sever ML, Lorenzo MG, Plaut M, Lack G, LEAP Study Team. Randomized trial of peanut consumption in infants at risk for peanut allergy. N Engl J Med. 2015; 372: 803-13.


Du Toit G, Sayre PH, Roberts G, Sever ML, Lawson K, Bahnson HT, Brough HA, Santos AF, Harris KM, Radulovic S, Basting M, Turcanu V, Plaut M, Lack G, LEAP Study Team. Effect of avoidance on peanut allergy after early peanut consumption. N Engl J Med. 2016; 374; 1435-1443.








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