Apr 18, 2014 fbook icon twitter icon rss icon
Health

When Can You First Give a Child Peanut Butter?

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Most doctors say that toddlers can have peanut butter by one year of age

Parents have many different ideas about when peanut butter should first be fed to a baby, but most doctors advise parents to wait until they are about one-year old. The reason for waiting is more related to the choking hazard of thick, gooey peanut butter that could possibly get stuck in the baby's throat than it is to concern over food allergies.

Toddlers should eat peanut butter that is a very thin layer on soft bread

Again, the reason for spreading only a very thin layer of peanut butter on a sandwich is to avoid choking. Soft bread helps young children swallow the food more easily after it is chewed. Most parents realize that each child is very different and unique. One baby will be ready to eat peanut butter at 10 months, but a sibling may not be ready until she is 18 months old. Some babies are late at getting their teeth and may not be able to thoroughly chew the sandwich until they are a little older.

Doctors disagree on when to feed peanut products to young children

There is no set rule as to when babies should first be fed peanut butter. In fact, there are some allergists and researchers who believe that waiting until a child is three or four-years old raises the chance that the child will develop a peanut allergy. The opposite set of beliefs is that young children should not be fed peanut products until they are much older. Some allergists still recommend waiting until at least three years of age to introduce peanut products.

The problem with waiting

The main problem with waiting beyond one year of age to introduce peanut butter is that the child may eat peanut products outside of the home. As children get older, many spend the night with relatives, especially grandparents who may feed the child peanut butter cookies or a peanut butter sandwich. Most parents would rather be with their child if
an allergic reaction does happen. Once the child is three, four, or five, there is also an increased chance that she will be in preschool and then kindergarten. It is much safer to know whether the child has a peanut allergy before entering school.

Every family with young kids should have an antihistamine on hand

If a toddler eats peanut products and then develops allergy symptoms, other family members, grandparents, or day care workers may not have non-drowsy Benadryl on hand. They also may not be aware that the child has never eaten peanut butter, so they don't really look for serious reactions to this food. Since symptoms can develop within 10 minutes or so after eating peanut products and the reaction can progress to the serious level rapidly, it is more of a risk to feed this food to a child without having an antihistamine nearby.

Parents are keeping track of foods that the toddler has been introduced to

Ultimately, parents are the ones who feed their children their first bites of new foods in most cases. Peanut allergies are one of the most severe of all food allergies, but they are not the only one. Parents should always watch their child as she eats a new food. The hours after eating are also important because a reaction could happen later in the day after eating peanut butter. Sometimes gastrointestinal reactions are diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps.