To reduce the chance that your child develops a peanut allergy reaction, the nation’s top allergy experts now recommend feeding babies as young as four months peanut-containing foods.
The guidelines are based on research that found babies given peanut products early in life were less likely to develop peanut allergies by age five.
“A peanut allergy can be life threatening and is usually lifelong,” said Dr. Kristin Cutlan, pediatrician at Marshfield Children’s. “It causes stress for both the child and the parents due to hidden dangers and unknown exposures. The new guidelines will hopefully protect more kids from development of this allergy.”
Recommendations based on allergy risk
The right time to give peanut products depends on the infant’s risk for peanut allergies. 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 early, around four months old.
Babies who have no known food allergies or eczema can eat peanut products after baby foods are normally introduced, around six months.
Introduce age-appropriate foods
Infants should be able to eat pureed foods from a spoon before trying peanut products. Try diluting a small amount of peanut butter with hot water and add to infant cereal, or use peanut powder 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 a peanut allergy reaction
Babies should be given small amounts of peanut-containing foods and be observed for signs of a peanut allergy reaction for the next few days.
“It’s recommended to wait five days before giving other new foods so if there is a reaction, you know which food was the culprit,” Dr. Cutlan said.
Call 911 if your child has trouble breathing or rapid swelling, which are allergy reactions after eating peanut products. Take your child to the emergency room or urgent care if they vomit or develop a rash or hives.