Can You Feed a Baby Peanut Butter?

It depends on the baby and family history

There is no one answer to the question of whether you should feed a baby peanut butter. Families with peanut allergies are very aware that if the baby has peanut allergy symptoms, it could be serious or even life threatening for the baby to eat this food. If a brother or sister of the baby is allergic to peanuts, extra care must be taken before giving the baby peanut butter. A baby's family history is the greatest predictor of whether she will also have a peanut allergy.

If a sibling has a peanut allergy, the baby has a ten times greater chance of being allergic to peanuts

According to the Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, a child in a family that already has a child with a peanut allergy is 10 times more likely to also be allergic to peanuts. It could be very dangerous to feed peanut butter to a baby with a brother or sister who has a peanut allergy. It is always best to discuss whether your child needs allergy testing with your pediatrician if food allergies run in your family.

An allergist can advise parents on whether or not to feed this baby peanut butter

Diagnostic testing is usually recommended for a baby who comes from a family with peanut allergies. An allergist or immunologist is able to perform skin tests and other testing to see if the baby has the peanut allergy that runs in her family. It is far safer to know if allergies exist than to feed the baby peanut butter.

Babies close to one-year old can be fed peanut butter if no allergies exist in the family

Some pediatricians tell parents to try peanut butter when the baby is about one year old. At this point, many babies have enough teeth to chew properly. Many other pediatricians and allergists say that it is far better to wait until the child is two, or almost three years-old before giving the child peanut butter. At this age, the child can tell the parent if it feels "funny" around their mouth, or if they itch somewhere on their body. Younger children cannot do this.

If no one in either the mother's or father's family has food allergies, it is usually safe to feed an older baby peanut butter

Many doctors caution parents who do not have peanut allergies and who come from families in which no one has food allergies,eczema, or asthma that there is likely to be as much danger from the baby choking on the peanut butter than from having an allergic reaction. If peanut butter is fed to the older baby, it should be spread in a very thin layer so that it doesn't get stuck in the baby's throat.

Families should keep an antihistamine for children available in case their child shows any type of allergic reaction

Babies are continually beginning to eat foods for the first time, and they could have an allergic reaction to any of these. The most common food allergies are milk, egg, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy, tree nuts, and peanuts. Every three minutes, someone in the U.S. goes to an emergency room for a food allergy reaction (Source: Food Allergy Initiative). Pediatricians recommend that non-drowsy Benadryl is kept on hand for minor reactions to foods, but follow-up with your pediatrician or emergency room staff is necessary.

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