Introducing new foods into your baby’s diet is exciting and consistent research is showing that adding peanut products as early as 4-6 months can help reduce their risk of developing a peanut allergy later on in life. Have fun introducing your little one to peanut butter by adding it to easy recipes that the whole family will love.
With so much already to talk about during infant well visits, when it’s time to introduce solid foods to your healthy baby, you may wonder how to have that conversation with your provider—especially when it comes to feeding your baby potentially allergenic foods like peanuts for the first time.
The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) were released at the end of December 2021. If you missed the announcement, then you also missed a critical insight for healthcare providers and new parents to help bring an end to a public health challenge simply by being intentional about when and what we feed infants.
There are a lot of firsts for parents and Baby in that beginning year of life. From Baby’s first smile and laugh to the first full night of sleep and first time rolling over, it’s an exciting time! Feeding babies food beyond breastmilk or formula is a fun-filled experience too. You can introduce a wide variety of foods when your baby is ready, including common allergens. In fact, you may be surprised how early your baby can start eating these foods so they can grow up to be a big, healthy kid with a diverse diet – and they may also have a reduced risk of food allergies.
More than 98% of school-age children can enjoy peanuts without any issue and food allergies can be safely managed in schools while still making them available to non-allergic students.
The way we feed babies has changed dramatically over the past twenty years or so. While not a new approach to the introduction of solid foods, “baby-led weaning” (BLW) has become more mainstream and understood as a beneficial and viable option with evidence-based short- and long-term benefits. Scientific evidence supporting the early introduction of top allergenic foods during infancy for the prevention of food allergies has also grown. In fact, the new 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend offering top allergens (egg, peanut, tree nut, cow’s milk, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat) early and often starting at about 6 months of age when babies are showing signs of readiness for complementary foods (in conversation with the pediatrician if babies are at high risk for food allergies).[vii] The good news is that BLW is incredibly compatible with the early introduction of top allergens and can ease the process of offering these foods during infancy.
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