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Sunday, May 3, 2015

How can we introduce peanut products to infants without increasing choking risks?

For years I have been recommending peanut products to infants who are low risk for peanut allergy. A recent study has really highlighted the benefit of early introduction of peanut product decreasing peanut allergy risk, so more parents are wanting to know exactly how to give a baby peanut products without increasing the choking risk.

Bamba. Photo source: Wikimedia

The study was done using a product similar to Cheetos, made with peanut butter instead of cheese. Bamba is a snack food sold in Israel. You can get it online, but some of the reviews suggest that it may be a different product.

Since there is nothing similar in the US, how can you safely give peanut to your baby on a routine basis to help prevent peanut allergy once they are cleared by their doctor to start peanut products? (And even when there are products like these, don't limit your baby to pre-packaged foods... they are generally less healthy because of all the added ingredients.) It is important that your baby does not get too much peanut butter or a chunk of nut itself because these are choking risks, so a nice thick slab of peanut butter just won't work.

Some ideas of introducing peanut butter:
  • Look for peanut butter that doesn't have added sugar - babies don't need the sugar! 
  • Most kids love Cheerios (or other brand oat circle cereal). They do make a peanut butter flavor, made with real peanut butter.
  • Add peanut butter powder or peanut butter to oatmeal - check the texture to be sure it isn't too thick for your baby, add water, breast milk, or formula to thin it as needed.
  • Peanut butter smoothie (There are many recipes online, but be sure yours doesn't have honey if baby is under 12 months! If the recipe calls for milk, you should use your breast milk or formula. Find one that is made with real foods, such as banana + milk + peanut butter. Babies don't need chocolate or added sugars. If your baby doesn't like it cold, use water instead of ice and don't use frozen fruits.)
  • Peanut butter cookies (I like this recipe because it doesn't have added sugar. You can leave out the raisins if your baby would choke on that texture.)
  • Peanut butter muffins (Look for one without too much sugar and no honey. I couldn't find one without any added sugar -- if you do, please share below!)
  • Thin layer of peanut butter on bread, cracker, or even your finger. You can add a little water to the peanut butter to thin it out if needed.
  • Chinese chicken with peanut sauce and other foods made with peanut butter sauces. The whole family can enjoy these meals!
  • Share your favorite recipes that can be adapted for babies and toddlers below.