By: Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD
By now many parents are aware of the benefits of introducing common allergens early. In particular, the research clearly shows the potential for reducing the risk of developing peanut allergy when peanut foods are introduced early (around 4-6 months). Learn more about introducing peanut foods to babies at PreventPeanutAllergies.org. In addition to early introduction, keeping peanut foods in the baby’s diet is an important piece of the prevention puzzle. Parents had few ready-to-serve choices in the past, but options continue to grow and expand with some new exciting entries into the peanut-for-baby category.
The following is a list of some of the fantastic options parents now have for feeding infants and toddlers peanut foods. Remember, whole peanuts and spoonfuls of peanut butter should be saved for children over 4 years, and babies should always be supervised when they are eating anything. The National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recommends starting solid foods, including potential allergens at around 6 months for most babies (possibly earlier if high risk), but discuss your baby’s specific needs with your pediatrician if you have questions.
Peanut Butter and Powdered Peanut Butter
One of the simplest ways to introduce peanut foods is to use peanut butter or powdered peanut butter. Any peanut butter will do and more than 90% of households already have at least one jar in the pantry. Powdered peanut butter is another great option. Either product can be mixed into purees or infant cereal or thinned with water, breastmilk or formula. For baby, it’s best to choose products that contain only peanuts. If you’re looking for something just for baby, that’s available too!
- Mewe – This line of baby specific peanut paste is already blended with your choice of apples and cinnamon, banana or strawberry. It comes in easy to use (and take with) individual packets and can be purchased at Stop & Shop stores, at their website and via Amazon.
Self-feeding babies (and fans of baby-led weaning) love peanut-based puffs. Infant-appropriate puffs represent one of the easiest and most convenient ways to feed babies peanut foods, since they can go anywhere and don’t require a spoon or refrigeration. Plus, the whole family loves these crunchy treats!
- Bamba – The “Original Peanut Butter Puff,” Bamba, is available in supermarkets nationwide and via Amazon.
- Mission MightyMe – Small, star-shaped organic peanut puffs that are the perfect size for baby to practice his or her pincer grasp, Mission MightyMe is available for order direct from the company’s website.
- Gerber BabyPops – One of the largest baby food manufacturers just entered the early introduction category with a new line of puffs called Gerber BabyPops. These convenient snacks come in peanut, tomato and banana raspberry flavors and are packaged in a resealable container that is easy to take on the go. In addition to launching in Target stores nationwide, Gerber also rolled them out in Safeway and Albertson stores.
- Earth’s Best Organic Puffs – With adorable Sesame Street themed packaging, Earth’s Best peanut puffs are a great snack for older babies and toddlers.
- Puffworks Baby – A delicious fluffy, crunchy puff that helps baby practice grasping foods, Puffworks Baby is perfect for self-feeding babies, since the puff quickly dissolves. These puffs can be purchased on the Puffworks website, via Amazon and at retailers across the country, including Wholefoods Market.
One of the easiest first foods for babies are pureed foods. Until recently, caregivers had to mix in peanut butter or powdered peanut butter if they wanted this combo. However, convenient pre-mixed blends are now available right off the shelf and via mail-order.
- Happy Family Organics Nutty Blends – The newest addition to the pureed baby food market that contains peanut, Happy Family has recently launched their Nutty Blends Pouches for babies. Available nationwide at Target stories.
- Square Baby – The ultimate in convenience, Square Baby offers a subscription service whereby frozen purees (including Peanut Pumpkin Pie!) are delivered every two weeks based on baby’s specific needs.
- MyPeanut – Available via Amazon, MyPeanut was one of the first puree products created specifically for introducing peanuts and tree nuts.
- Inspired Start – Inspired Start brand of baby food purees are another option with excellent flexibility for caregivers and allow for either subscription-based ordering or ordering one box of product at a time through their website and Amazon.
As babies move into their toddler years, parents want easy and fun ways to keep their little ones fed. It’s also important to keep peanut foods in the diet. Ready to serve bars are a portable way to help those busy little ones keep peanuts on the menu in a safe and nutritious way.
- Plum Organics Mighty Nut Bar – This line of bars is labeled for toddlers 15 months and older. The peanut butter flavor features whole grains, rolled oats and a healthy dose of peanut butter.
Multiple Allergen Dietary Supplements
For parents looking toward a more prescribed approach, several companies provide powders that can be used to begin the process of introducing potential allergens. While the research supporting early introduction specifically used foods (including peanut butter, powdered peanut butter and peanut puffs), powdered supplements make giving specific amounts of peanut (and other allergens) proteins succinct.
- Lil Mixins – Offering pre-measured peanut, tree nut, and baked egg powders, Lil Mixins comes in individual packets and larger tubs. Available at Target, Amazon and via the Lil Mixins website.
- Ready, Set, Food – Ready, Set, Food offers parents pre-measured individual packets of peanut, milk and egg proteins that can be mixed into baby’s food. The company recommends the step-wise introduction of potentially allergenic proteins starting with milk, then egg, then peanut. Ready, Set, Food can be purchased directly from their website or via Amazon.
- SpoonfulOne – With a line of powders, puffs and crackers, SpoonfulOne allows parents to introduce 16 food proteins at once. These products can be purchased via the SpoonfulOne website, Amazon and at Walmart stores.