The nations’ top allergy experts now recommend feeding babies as young as 4 months peanut-containing foods to reduce their risk of developing peanut allergies.
The new guidelines are based on research that found babies given peanut products early in life were less likely to develop peanut allergies by age 5.
“This is the opposite of what experts thought before,” said Dr. Edna DeVries, a Marshfield Clinic pediatrician. “In the past doctors suggested waiting until after a baby’s first birthday to give peanut products.”
Recommendations based on allergy risk
“The right time to give peanut products depends on the infant’s risk for peanut allergies,” DeVries said.
Introduce peanut-containing foods to infants at high risk for developing a peanut allergy at 4-6 months after a health care provider performs allergy tests. Test results help decide if and how peanut products can safely be added to the baby’s diet. Babies who already have severe eczema, an egg allergy, or both are considered at high risk for peanut allergies.
Infants with mild or moderate eczema should be given peanut-containing foods around 6 months old.
Babies who have no known food allergies or eczema can eat peanut products after baby foods are normally introduced, around 6 months.
Introduce age-appropriate foods
Infants should be able to eat pureed foods from a spoon before trying peanut products. Try mixing a small amount of peanut butter or peanut oil in purees your baby already eats.
Don’t give infants whole peanuts or peanut butter from a spoon. Both pose a choking hazard.
Wait and watch for allergies
DeVries recommends feeding babies small amounts of peanut-containing foods then watching for signs of an allergic reaction for the next few days.
“It’s a good idea to wait five days before giving other new foods so if there is a reaction, you know which food was the culprit,” she said.
Call 911 if your child has trouble breathing or rapid swelling after eating peanut products. Take your child to the emergency room or urgent care if he vomits or develops a rash or hives.