The last thing a parent wants is harm to their child. So, when you know, there’s a common and potentially dangerous food allergen out there, like peanuts, the natural response is to banish them from the menu. But as skilled allergists, we have good news for you — you can help your child avoid developing a peanut allergy when you take the proper steps early on.
Our Advance Allergy & Asthma team understands that food allergies can be scary, especially those involving peanuts. And, if your child has shown signs of a peanut allergy in the past, we recommend working closely with one of our experts moving forward.
However, an early and safe introduction can reduce your child’s chances of developing a peanut allergy. Here’s what you should know.
Generally speaking, experts recommend that you begin introducing foods with peanuts to babies around six months of age — typically after they’ve started consuming other solid foods. This early introduction can help desensitize their immune system to this type of food, reducing their chances of having an allergic reaction in the future.
While it’s true that peanut allergies can be very serious and even life-threatening, certain factors can increase a child’s chances of food allergies, such as:
As your child nears the six-month mark, we recommend talking to their doctor about their potential risks. If they have a food allergy, the safest plan could be to work with us to perform an allergy test before giving them the food.
Next, it’s crucial to know the symptoms of a food allergy. Common signs of a food allergy include:
Allergic reactions can occur up to two hours after having a new food, so plan on watching your baby closely for several hours. Seek medical attention immediately if these symptoms arise.
If your doctor thinks it’s safe to introduce your baby to peanuts, and you know the signs of an allergy, it’s time to get started.
First, pick a day when you have at least two hours to watch your baby for a reaction. Plan on doing it while you’re at home and when they’re completely healthy.
Next, don’t give children under four plain peanut butter; never give children under age five whole nuts.
Instead, mix smooth, all-natural peanut butter with another safe food, such as:
For babies, peanut butter recipes often include two teaspoons of peanut butter and approximately 2-3 tablespoons of the safe food mixture.
Now, it’s time to begin.
Give your baby a taste of the peanut butter recipe, and stop. That’s right! After that first taste, wait 10 minutes. During this time, watch them for signs of a reaction. If 10 minutes pass without any issue, you can give them the rest of the peanut butter recipe — if they want it — at their normal eating rate.
Don’t forget; a child can have an allergic reaction to food for up to two hours, so continue watching them after their first exposure.
If your child doesn’t show any signs of a peanut allergy, experts recommend giving them two teaspoons of a peanut product thrice weekly. This regular exposure can help them avoid developing a peanut allergy.
When a child does show signs of a peanut allergy, we recommend additional testing from an expert. Depending on their allergy screening, we can offer personalized guidance moving forward.
Want to learn more about food allergies and children? Contact Advanced Allergy & Asthma in Ogden, Utah, to schedule a consultation today.