The main concern with introducing peanut butter to children is its reputation as a severe allergen in about 1 percent of the United States population. A secondary concern is the sticky texture of peanut butter that can pose a choking hazard because it is difficult to swallow. Because of these reasons, you should wait until your child is at least 1 year old before introducing peanut butter. When you do give your child peanut butter for the first time, do so carefully and attentively so you can act quickly if your child has problems eating it.
Talk with your child’s doctor before introducing peanut butter. If your family has a history of allergies or if the child has shown evidence of other allergies, the doctor might recommend waiting until well after the child’s first birthday to introduce peanut butter. The doctor also might recommend having an oral histamine available when giving the first feeding of peanut butter.
Sit your child in his high chair at a time of day when you can watch for allergic reactions for the next few hours. Allergic symptoms can manifest anywhere from a few seconds to about two hours after eating peanut butter, according to the March of Dimes.
Spread a thin layer of smooth peanut butter on a cracker or piece of bread. If you are worried about the sticky consistency of the peanut butter, mix it with some applesauce before spreading it to help thin it out.
Give your child one small piece of the bread or cracker with peanut butter and watch her as she eats it. Make sure the child chews the food thoroughly and succeeds in swallowing it.
Offer your child milk or water to help swallow the peanut butter completely.
Watch your child closely for symptoms of peanut allergies in the next couple hours. Symptoms include hives on the skin, swelling or tingling in the tongue and throat, abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. In a severe allergic reaction, the child could experience anaphylaxis, which is a severe drop in blood pressure and loss of consciousness.
Call 911 or your local emergency number if your child seems to be having trouble breathing, experiences swelling around the mouth or has severe vomiting or diarrhea.
Feed your child peanut butter in the same manner at least once per day for the next few days and continue watching for allergic reactions. Call your doctor if you notice potential mild allergic symptoms. Do not introduce any other new foods until you are confident that your child is not allergic to peanut butter.
Things You Will Need
- Smooth peanut butter
- Bread or crackers
- High chair
Although some organizations recommend waiting until the child is 2 or 3 years old before introducing peanut butter, there is no convincing evidence that delaying the introduction of peanut butter will help prevent children from developing allergies to it, according to the Mayo Clinic. In fact, delaying the introduction might increase the chance of the child having an allergy, according to the March of Dimes.