Hazelnuts, if they are finely ground or served as hazelnut butter, may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Whole hazelnuts, chopped hazelnuts, and hazelnut butter are choking hazards for babies, so read our preparation by age section closely before serving.
If you are feeling terrified to introduce nuts to your baby, watch our peanut and allergen videos in our virtual course, which were created by our award-winning allergist MD and our founder, who is an allergy mom.
Also known as cobnut, filbert, fındık, noisette, and nocciola, hazelnuts grow in the wild and on farms throughout much of the northern hemisphere, from North America to Europe and Asia. Excavations have uncovered pits of hazelnut shells from ancient dwelling sites, suggesting that humans have been enjoying the sweet, creamy nut for thousands of years. Today, hazelnuts are consumed globally in sweet and savory cooking, from kofta to linzer cookies, salads to sütlü nuriye, a baklava-like dessert of flaky dough, hazelnut paste, and milky sauce in Turkey, where many of the world’s hazelnuts are cultivated. Take care when purchasing hazelnuts, as commercial farms sometimes employ workers with few protections, such as refugees and children.
Eunoia, 6 months, eats finely ground hazelnut and mashed fig stirred into yogurt.
Cooper, 11 months, eats stewed pear with finely ground hazelnuts on top.
Amelia, 11 months, eats yogurt with finely ground hazelnuts on top.
Yes, if unsalted. Hazelnuts are a rich source of vitamin E, healthy fats, and fiber, which are important nutrients to develop and maintain baby’s brain, heart, immune system, and digestion. Nuts in general are an excellent source of iron and protein, making them a particularly healthful food for babies on plant-based diets. Lastly, hazelnuts contain vitamin K, a nutrient that is essential for blood clotting.
Hazelnuts are sometimes sold salted, and some brands of hazelnut butter may be high in sugar and sodium. When introducing hazelnuts to babies, opt for unsalted, unsweetened nuts or hazelnut butter, if possible.
★Tip: Like most tree nuts, hazelnuts can go rancid. Store raw nuts or open jars of hazelnut butter in the refrigerator to extend the shelf life. Hazelnuts can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 1 year and in the freezer for up to 2 years.
No. Prior to 12 months, the only liquids an infant should consume are breast milk, formula, and, if the baby is older than 6 months of age, water in small amounts (less than 2-4 ounces / 60-120 milliliters a day) in an open cup. If hazelnut milk is used as an ingredient in solid food (such as oatmeal), then it is acceptable to serve before 12 months of age.
If, after the first birthday, you’d like to introduce unsweetened hazelnut milk as a beverage, it’s fine to do so, but know that nut milks often lack adequate calories, fat, and protein for toddlers. Typically, fortified soy or pea milk are more nutritious. See our Milk FAQs to learn more.
Yes. Whole nuts, nut pieces, and globs of nut butters are choking hazards for babies and young children. To reduce the risk, finely grind hazelnuts until no large pieces remain and sprinkle on other foods or offer smooth hazelnut butter thinned with other foods like applesauce or yogurt until smooth, with no clumps. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.
Yes. Hazelnuts are tree nuts, and all tree nuts are common food allergens. Due to similarities in the nuts’ protein structure, individuals who are allergic to macadamia nut, walnut, or pecan may be more likely to be allergic to hazelnuts. While only 1 to 3% of the population is allergic to tree nuts, it is usually life-long: only 9% of children with a tree nut allergy will outgrow it.
Hazelnuts are a common cause of Oral Allergy Syndrome, especially in individuals who are allergic to birch tree pollen. Oral Allergy Syndrome to hazelnut typically results in short-lived itching, tingling, or burning in the mouth and is less likely to result in a dangerous reaction.
Although an allergy to one tree nut increases risk of allergy to another, keep in mind that being allergic to one nut does not necessarily mean that all nuts need to be removed from the diet. Having as diverse a diet as possible, even within the confines of food allergies, is important to get the nutrients we need to be healthy.
There is no recommendation to complete allergy testing before introducing tree nuts into the diet, even if there is a family history of food allergy. However, if you suspect baby may be allergic to nuts, make an appointment with your primary care clinician or a pediatric allergist before introducing nuts at home.
When it’s time to introduce the nut, offer a scant quantity (such as a pinch of finely ground nut or 1/8 teaspoon of smooth hazelnut butter thinned with water) for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals. It is okay if baby does not consume each serving entirely. It is important to maintain common food allergens (such as tree nuts) in the diet regularly (twice weekly, if possible) once introduced. Don’t stop offering the nut unless the baby shows signs of a reaction.
Hazelnuts and hazelnut butter can help prevent constipation by promoting bowel movement regularity. They are a good source of fiber and magnesium, which help move stool along in the intestine.
Hazelnuts are delicious on their own or mixed with other nuts, but if you want to use the nuts in your cooking, there are plenty of options. Grind the nuts to make an earthy topping that you can sprinkle on grains and vegetables or use to coat proteins to make chicken nuggets, fish sticks, or tofu strips. Blend the nuts to make a dairy-free butter to spread on toast or eat with fresh fruit. You can also grind and soak the nuts to make hazelnut milk, which can add creamy flavor and lots of nutrition to grains, porridges, and smoothies. Hazelnuts also taste delicious with creamy cheeses; try mixing ground hazelnut with ricotta cheese and lemon zest to make tagliatelle di nocciola, a delicious pasta dish from the Piedmont region of Italy.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience.
Grind hazelnuts in a food processor until completely fine and no large pieces remain. If you do not have a food processor, you can pound the nuts in a cloth with a hammer, a mortar and pestle, or the end of a wine bottle. To serve the ground nut, sprinkle a small amount on yogurt, rice, quinoa, squash, or warm cereal. You can also roll slippery foods like sliced fruit in the ground nut, which adds texture that makes it easier for baby to pick up. If you’d like to make a baby-friendly nut butter, keep the food processor going until the nuts form a paste, then add water, yogurt, or a baby-friendly liquid to thin it into a non-sticky, smooth spread with no clumps. This can be spread very thinly on other age-appropriate foods. Keep in mind that adding even a thin layer of nut butter to a food can make that food more challenging for baby to manage. Toast with nut butter can be particularly challenging for young babies to manage, which can increase the risk of gagging and choking.
Continue to finely grind hazelnuts and sprinkle on fruits and vegetables or incorporate hazelnut butter into other foods such as yogurt and warm cereals. At this age, you can also experiment with nut butter in baked goods or try serving nut butter on toast. When serving nut butter on toast, make the butter is thinly spread and offer milk or water in an open cup to help wash down any sticky pieces of food.
Continue to serve finely ground hazelnuts and use hazelnut butter as you wish. If your child has developed mature eating skills (taking small bites with their teeth, moving food to the side of the mouth when chewing, chewing thoroughly before swallowing, not stuffing food in their mouths, and finally, the ability to identify and spit out foods when it is not well chewed, AND is able to eat softer nuts like walnut and pecans with ease, they may be ready to learn how to eat whole hazelnuts. Just remember that nuts and nut pieces are considered choking hazards until age 4 and even beyond by all governing medical bodies.
Hazelnuts are particularly risky and challenging to eat as they are firm, difficult to take a bite out of, and are small and round. We'd recommend starting with other nuts before offering hazelnuts.
To model how to eat hazelnuts safely, start by telling your child: "This is a hard one. Watch me." Then, show your toddler how to place the hazelnut in-between your front teeth. Hold the nut between your teeth and exaggerate moving the nut to your molars with your tongue. Chew with your mouth open (you can even demonstrate by opening and closing your hands at the same time). Once you have chewed the nut well, open your mouth to show your toddler how it has been broken down. Say, "I moved it to my big strong teeth to chew it. It needs a lot of chewing." Demonstrate a couple of times before offering the child a hazelnut to do the same.
To coach your child through eating a whole hazelnut safely, say, "Your turn to try." DO NOT PUT THE NUT IN THEIR MOUTH. If the child takes a bite and chews thoroughly (they may spit the nut out for many months as they get used to the texture), offer one or two more nuts at a time (but never more) to keep the pace slow. If your child does not use their teeth to bite or attempt to move the nut to the molars to break it down, we recommend coaching the child to spit the nut out and waiting a few weeks more to practice chewing other nuts that are less challenging.
It is important to help your child stay engaged with the task, and part of that is modeling that safe chewing takes place when we are not talking, singing, etc. A highly animated child who is talking, yelling or singing while practicing eating nuts increases choking risk. After practicing nuts with your toddler, make sure their mouth is clear before taking them out of the highchair. Never allow your toddler to walk around with nuts or nut pieces in their mouth.
Take the guesswork out of introducing common allergens by watching our video, Introducing Allergens.
1 cup (112 grams) hazelnut meal or ¾ cup (120 grams) hazelnuts
½ cup (60 grams) chickpea flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
1 tablespoon (7 grams) flaxseed or flaxseed meal
3 tablespoons (45 milliliters) water
¾ cup (180 milliliters) plant-based milk of choice
1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) neutral cooking oil
1 cup (200 grams) fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, or berry of choice
Mix the hazelnut meal, chickpea flour, and baking powder in a large bowl. If you don’t have hazelnut meal, grind whole hazelnuts into a fine powder using a food processor, mortar and pestle, hammer, or the end of a wine bottle.
Grind the flaxseed into a fine powder, then mix with the water. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Pour the flaxseed-water mixture, milk, and apple cider vinegar into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients. Whisk to combine.
Place the oil in a large non-stick skillet set on medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add a spoonful of batter (about 2 tablespoons) and use the back of the spoon to gently flatten the batter into a round pancake.
Repeat—taking care not to overcrowd the skillet with pancakes.
Cook until the bottoms are golden, about 3 minutes. Flip the pancakes, then cook until the other side starts to brown. Transfer the pancakes to a plate.
Repeat until all batter is used. Cool pancakes to room temperature.
As the pancakes are cooling, make the berry sauce by placing the berries and ½ cup (120 milliliters) of water in a small saucepan set on medium-high heat. When the mixture reaches a boil, turn down the heat to create a steady simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries have softened and burst, about 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Let the sauce cool to room temperature.
Place a couple of pancakes in front of the child and pour a spoonful or two of berry sauce on top. Exact serving size is variable. Let a child’s appetite determine how much is eaten.
Serve the pancakes as finger food and let the child try to pick up the food on their own. If help is needed, pass a pancake in the air for baby to grab.
To Store: The batter needs to be used right away, but leftover pancakes and berry sauce can be stored in air-tight containers in the fridge for 2 days or the freezer for 2 months.
E. Cerda, MSN, CNS, LDN
A. Gilbaugh, RD, CNSC
K. Tatiana Maldonado, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS, CLEC
K. Rappaport, OTR/L, MS, SCFES, IBCLC
K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT
Dr. S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)
Dr. R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist
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