Tree nuts are one of the “top eight” food allergens. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid feeding nuts to your baby. In fact, pediatricians and allergists now recommend giving nuts (and peanuts) to infants as soon as they are ready to start solid foods (usually four to six months old). There are exceptions, of course, so you should talk to your pediatrician about what’s best for your baby. If you have a family history of allergies, be sure to let your pediatrician know.
What are tree nuts?
For people with food allergies, tree nuts include the following types of nuts (remember, peanuts are not actually tree nuts, but legumes). If any of these conditions occur, the food label will state that the product contains nuts. If your child has a known allergy to nuts, also beware of cooking oils and additives in soaps, lotions and other things you might put on your child’s skin.
Pine nuts or pine nuts
Symptoms of an allergic reaction
Whether you have a family history of allergies or not, when eating nuts for the first time, watch for signs of an allergic reaction: hives, difficulty breathing or asthma symptoms, swelling of the mouth or throat, vomiting or diarrhea, loss of consciousness. If your baby develops allergy symptoms, call 911 at any time.
If your baby is at high risk, your pediatrician may ask you to introduce certain foods in their office so that they can observe the reaction in a clinical setting.
How to feed your little tree nuts
Nuts are high in healthful fatty acids, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and protein, so don’t be shy about giving your baby nuts. However, whole nuts are a choking hazard, as is a thick, sticky spoonful of nut butter. Instead:
Spoon feeding: Dilute nut butter with water, breast milk or formula. Then add yogurt, oatmeal, baby cereal or fruit puree and stir until fully mixed. You can also use powdered nut butter and stir it directly into these foods until smooth.
Finger foods: Use nut butter or pesto (made from pine nuts, walnuts, almonds or any nut you like) as a sauce for pasta (added bonus: the pasta is smoother than when tossed with butter or olive oil). Or spread a thin layer of nut butter on toasted bread.