Nuts - Are they safe to give to young children

I often find diet advice for adults is riddled with contradictions and so confusing I tend not to engage with it at all anymore.

I find diet advice for children, not that dissimilar. We both found the weaning period frought with anxiety, are they eating too much, are they eating too little, should I start with purees, should I do baby led weaning? It goes on and on…

To cut through some of the confusion on nuts and introducing them early, we wanted to do a quick post on the benefits of nut butters.

Advice has changed over the years on when exactly the right time to introduce nuts is (specifically peanuts) into our childrens diets.

For years, parents were advised by medical professionals to avoid giving nuts (specifically peanuts and peanut based foods) until children were at least three years old.  However, it is now widely believed that instead of reducing the amount of sufferers of nut allergies, it has in fact done the opposite. Prof Alan Boobis, from Imperial College London, said: “The previous view that delaying the introduction of allergenic foods decreases the risk of food allergy is incorrect”.

NHS guidance on this changed very recently and you are now encouraged to introduce peanuts and nuts in the form of nut butters from around 6 months. Research by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition has demonstrated that by introducing nuts (in the form of a butter or powder) can help protect baby’s from developing an allergy to nuts (if your baby already has any allergies, eczema, asthma or hay fever you should speak with your GP first).

I was chatting to Emma Ross (founder of @MamalinaUk) about nut butters and the benefits of introducing them to children from six months. She mentioned that Israel has one of the lowest rates of nut allergy sufferers globally because parents give their children Bamba, a peanut based puff as a weaning snack (fun fact, Bamba turns out to be a lot of baby’s first word). Dr Gideon Lack, a Professor at Kings College conducted a ground breaking study on peanut allergies and found that exposing infants to peanuts within their first year helped prevent peanut allergies in 81% of cases. After doing some research around this, I found that other countries such as China and Thailand also have low allergy rates as parents give their weaning babies dishes such as peanut rice porridge.

Nut butters also have lots of amazing benefits and are packed full of essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals that help support growth and development.

  •  Excellent source of protein to support your baby’s developing muscles (this makes them the perfect choice for vegetarian or vegan babies) 
  • Rich in heart healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids), making them a great source of energy for your growing baby
  • Contain fibre to support your baby’s digestion
  • Provide iron to support the production of healthy red blood cells 
  • Source of calcium to help your baby build and maintain healthy bones and teeth
  • Contain antioxidants, such as vitamin E, to support your baby’s immune system  
  • Rich in B vitamins, such as folate, which help to keep your baby’s nervous system healthy

There are so many easy ways to add nut butters into your baby’s diets, a few super easy examples are below.

  • add to porridge and pancakes
  • use as a sandwich filling e.g. banana and peanut butter sandwich 
  • use in curries and stews
  • great topping for toast, crackers and rice cakes

No matter what dishes you add our nut butters to they’re a healthy nutritious option for your little one.