ATLANTA - How do you safely introduce peanuts to a baby?
At Sage Hill Pediatrics in Atlanta, registered nurse Laura Balgari says you want to first find out if your baby might be at higher-risk of a peanut allergy.
Children with a family history, severe eczema, which is an itchy skin rash, or an allergy to eggs are more likely to have a peanut allergy.
"With a baby we definitely want to consider a family history of allergies," says Balgari. "I always tell parents, if you're introducing a new food that you have any concerns about, make sure you have Benadryl on hand."
Balgari says never feed babies peanut butter, which can be thick and hard to swallow, or whole peanuts.
Both are choking hazards.
"You want something small that won't block the airway," she says.
So, use either watered- down peanuts mixed into a warm puree, or try a peanut-based toddler snack.
At Sage Hill, Balgari recommends an air-puff peanut snack called "Bamba."
"It's is basically made out of peanuts, puffed air and oil," she says. "It's safe because it's airy, it melts in the mouth. So that's a pretty safe way to start."
Go slowly, introducing just one new food at a time.
Watch for signs of an allergic reaction, like hives, a skin rash, difficulty breathing or a change in behavior.
In new guidelines, the National Institutes of Health is recommending parents of higher-risk babies begin introducing peanut-products at between 4 and 6 months of age.
Children considered lower risk, should begin eating peanut-based foods at about 6 months, after they have started eating solid foods.
"If you have real serious concerns and a strong family history, we actually suggest introducing the food in our office, and we have a an allergy challenge that takes about a half hour," she says.
If you are worried your child might have a reaction, talk to your pediatrician about the safest way to introduce peanuts.
You may want to have your child experience that first taste in the doctor's office, rather than your home.