Peanut may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Whole peanuts, chopped peanuts, and peanut butter are choking hazards for babies and children, so check out how to prepare them in safe ways.
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.
Peanuts are a common choking hazard, so keep reading to learn how to serve them safely.
Real talk: peanut makes people nervous. And for good reason: peanut is one of the most common food allergens in children. However, there is evidence that introducing peanut in a baby’s diet early and frequently may significantly reduce the risk of developing a peanut allergy. Conversely, delaying introduction of peanut may increase the likelihood of a peanut allergy later on in life in infants at high risk of peanut allergy.
Classified as a major allergen by food regulators, peanut is not actually a nut, but rather the edible seed of a legume plant that grows underground. Peanut originated in South America, where Indigenous people cultivated the groundnut for nourishment and ceremonial purposes. European colonizers brought peanuts with them around the globe. Today the legume is the world’s most consumed “nut” and an important staple food in Africa, Asia, and North America.
Isar, 9 months, eats peanut butter mixed into yogurt
Adie, 10 months, eats a banana dipped in yogurt with peanut butter mixed in
Kalani, 12 months, eats peanut butter mixed into yogurt
Yes. Peanuts pack a powerful nutrition punch. They contain plenty of protein, fat, and fiber to nourish the body and antioxidants that may support heart health. Peanuts are also rich in essential nutrients that work together to grow the brain (folate, vitamins B6 and E, and zinc) and energize the body (copper, vitamin B3, and magnesium). Just be sure to purchase unsalted peanuts as many peanuts contain lots of sodium, which in excess is not healthy for babies (or adults).
You may have heard debate over the health implications of lectins, oxalates, phytates in peanuts. Fear not—these plant compounds are mostly harmless when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, plus they can be reduced by roasting peanuts—a standard method of processing this healthy legume for consumers.
Lastly, but certainly not least, peanut flour is becoming an increasingly popular food item. Peanut flour is made from ground peanuts that have had the fat content removed, hence why it is also called defatted peanut flour or powder. While it is lacking in fat, it still contains significant amounts of fiber, protein, and micronutrients such as zinc, vitamin B6, and folate.
★Tip: Peanuts and peanut butter are susceptible to fungi and mold, but there are ways to minimize the risk: keep open jars of peanut butter in the fridge, purchase unsalted roasted peanuts, or roast unsalted raw peanuts at home after purchase.
Yes. All nuts, nut pieces, and nut butters are choking hazards for babies and children. To reduce the risk, thin peanut butter out with water, breast milk, formula, or purées like applesauce and finely grind peanuts to sprinkle on other food. As always, be sure to create a safe eating environment, stay within arm’s reach of a baby during meals, and check out our age-appropriate serving suggestions.
Yes. Peanut allergies in children are on the rise, with a greater risk among babies with severe eczema or an existing egg allergy. If you believe baby may have a peanut allergy, or if baby has severe eczema, consult with your pediatrician or a pediatric allergist before introducing peanuts.
A groundbreaking study demonstrated that the early introduction of peanuts could significantly reduce the risk of developing a peanut allergy later. Following the study, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases now recommends that peanuts be introduced before a baby’s first birthday while considering any risk factors.
Unfortunately, for those who do develop peanut allergies, they tend to be lifelong. Only about 20% of children outgrow a peanut allergy. Furthermore, kids who are allergic to peanuts have a greater chance (between 25 and 40%) of being allergic to one or more tree nuts. Interestingly, for those with peanut allergies, highly refined peanut oils are typically tolerated because the allergenic peanut proteins are removed during processing. However, unrefined peanut oil still poses a risk of allergy due to retained proteins within the oil.
How early should peanut be introduced? While babies with severe eczema or pre-existing food allergy should consult with their doctor prior to peanut introduction, other babies can introduce peanut as soon as they are developmentally ready for solids, usually at around 6 months of age. For babies with eczema of any severity, earlier introduction is recommended – ideally between 4 to 6 months of age.
As with all food allergens, it’s best to start small. Serve a small amount (such as a pinch of ground peanut or 1/8 of a teaspoon of smooth peanut butter that does not contain honey) during the initial introduction and watch closely after the first taste, as reactions don’t always occur immediately. If there is no adverse reaction after 5 to 10 minutes, offer the remainder of the peanut at baby’s natural feeding pace. You can then gradually increase the quantity of peanut offered over the next few servings. Allergists recommend maintaining common allergens, including peanut, in the diet regularly once introduced. Based on recent studies, an average of 2 grams of peanut protein each week throughout the toddler years is believed to be sufficient to induce long-lasting tolerance to peanut.
Want more support in introducing peanuts? See our guide Introducing Allergens to Babies
Yes—as long as it is free of added sodium and sugar. When shopping for peanut butter for babies, buy unsalted, smooth peanut butter with no added sugar, sweeteners, flavorings, hydrogenated oil, or other preservatives.
★Tip: Watch out for imposters! Some peanut butter contains hydrogenated oils and sweeteners like chocolate, which are not appropriate for babies. When possible, opt for jars of smooth peanut butter that are marked “natural”, “unsalted”, and “no added sugar”.
Yes. Both refined and unrefined peanut oil are fine as cooking oils. Peanut oil is either ultra-processed at high heats to remove the color and taste (refined peanut oil) or cold-pressed to retain flavor and nutrition (unrefined peanut oil). Both types add healthy fats to a baby’s diet, however, you may want to choose refined peanut oil as it has a higher smoke point and is less likely to turn rancid while cooking. The smoke point of refined peanut oil is 450 degrees Fahrenheit / 232 degrees Celsius.
Yes, though it is best added to other foods. Peanut flour is made by grinding and stripping peanuts of their healthy fats, which is why it is sometimes marketed as “defatted” peanut flour or powder. While peanut flour lacks fat, it still contains significant amounts of fiber, protein, and micronutrients such as zinc, vitamin B6, and folate.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience.
Babies in this age range are not usually developmentally ready to feed themselves, so peanut is generally only recommended for introduction between 4 to 6 months of age if a doctor or allergist determines that early introduction is desirable for allergy prevention purposes due to pre-existing risk factors for the development of peanut allergy, such as eczema, a pre-existing food allergy, or both. For other babies, peanut can be introduced when baby is showing all the signs of readiness to introduce solids, usually around the 6-month mark.
To introduce peanut between 4 and 6 months of age, you can thin about 1/8 tsp of smooth peanut butter (honey-free) with water and offer a taste to baby from your fingertip or from a spoon. If baby has significant facial eczema or a tendency to develop skin irritation, consider applying a barrier ointment (such as pure petroleum jelly or a plant-based oil/wax combination) to the skin around the mouth prior to offering the peanut butter. This will help to prevent mild contact reactions.
Alternatively, you can combine a very small amount of smooth peanut butter (honey-free) or peanut flour/powder with fruit or vegetable puree. If you are introducing peanut mixed with a fruit or vegetable puree, you may want to introduce very small tastes of the puree a few times in advance to rule out an allergy to that food before combining it with a common allergen like peanut. This way, if the child reacts to the peanut mixture, you’ll know for sure the reaction was to the peanut and not the puree.
Offer a small taste of the mixture (dip the tip of a finger or teaspoon, for example) and hold out to baby, pausing in front of their mouth. Do not swipe the peanut butter into their mouth until they appear ready (mouth open, sticking out tongue, ideally leaning forward toward your finger or the spoon). Let them suck briefly on your finger or the spoon tip if baby is willing. Wait 10 minutes, and if there are no signs of an allergic reaction, continue gradually offering tastes of the peanut-containing food if baby shows interest. Don’t worry if baby doesn’t finish the whole thing. The goal at this young age is only to introduce the allergen, not to fill baby’s belly with solid food. Once baby is done eating, observe for another 30 minutes to ensure there are no signs of an allergic reaction. If a reaction does occur, stop feeding and immediately contact your healthcare provider or, if the reaction is severe, emergency services. Read more about Symptoms of Allergic Reactions.
If baby can tolerate the introduction of peanut into the diet, continue offering peanut regularly, aiming for twice a week. Studies show that regular peanut consumption in the diet is key to protecting against the development of peanut allergy.
Thin smooth peanut butter (honey-free) with water, breast milk, formula, or purees like applesauce and serve on its own or mix into other soft, scoopable foods like porridge or yogurt. Alternatively, grind unsalted raw or roasted peanuts to a fine consistency, then sprinkle a pinch on top of soft, scoopable foods like mashed fruits and vegetables, warm cereal, or yogurt. You can also roll slippery fruits like avocado, banana, or mango in ground peanut to add grip. Once peanut has been successfully in the diet for a few weeks, you can offer thinned peanut butter as a “finger paint” or dipping sauce. Be aware that this may not be the best choice for babies prone to eczema on their hands or faces, who may experience contact rashes from the allergen exposure.
Continue to mix unsalted, smooth peanut butter into soft, scoopable foods, roll slippery foods in finely ground peanuts to add grip, and add peanut butter or peanut flour to a batter for baked goods. At this age, you can also offer smooth peanut butter thinly spread on toast. Try serving with a drink of water or milk to help wash down any sticky pieces of food. You can also use peanut oil for cooking vegetables, grains, and other whole foods, but keep in mind that peanut oil is not sufficient for maintaining allergen exposure, as it typically does not have enough of the allergenic proteins.
After a toddler’s second birthday, they may be ready for whole peanuts if the child has developed advanced chewing and swallowing skills. Approach this step with great care and consideration: whole peanuts are among the top causes of non-fatal and fatal food-related choking incidents among children younger than age 3 in North America. To reduce the risk, start by splitting the peanuts in half (the halves easily slide apart with some pressure from your fingers) and make sure the child is in a safe eating environment. Start with one piece at a time. Demonstrate placing the peanut on your own molars and chew in a very exaggerated fashion. Explain to the child how much noise your teeth make breaking down the peanut. Coach your child to do the same. You can count out loud how many crunches your child can make on a peanut, ensuring thorough mastication.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
½ c (120 ml)
This recipe contains a common allergen: peanut (butter). Only serve to a child after this allergen has been safely introduced. Always check for potential allergens in ingredients listed on the labels of store-bought processed foods, such as peanut butter. Added ingredients may include honey, which should not be given to babies younger than 12 months.
Whisk the applesauce and peanut butter until saucy and smooth with no clumps—like paint!
Scoop the “paint” into a bowl that is wide enough bowl for hands to reach inside.
Grab a baby spoon, banana spears, and a resistive food teether that can be dipped in the “paint”.
Serve the Paint
Offer the “paint” to baby, then let the child self-feed.
If help is needed, dip a baby spoon or a banana spear in the “paint”, then hold it in the air in front of baby and let the child grab it from you.
Repeat–and this time, model how to use the spoon or spear to paint on the tray or table. Painting with fingers works, too!
To Store: Peanut Butter Apple “Paint” keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months.
Peanut’s rich, nutty flavor tastes delicious with so many kinds of foods! Its earthiness balances the sweet and tart flavor of fruits like apple, banana, mango, papaya, pineapple, plantain, and strawberry, and plays up the brightness in green veggies like bell pepper, bok choy, cabbage, celery, collard greens, green bean, and spinach. A sprinkle of ground peanut can add extra richness to fellow protein-packed foods like beef, bison, chicken, and lamb and sweet seafoods like salmon, shrimp, tilapia, or trout. You can also top grains and noodles like amaranth, couscous, egg noodles, quinoa, pasta, rice, or soba with ground peanut—or stir ground peanut or peanut butter into mashed root vegetables and legumes like black beans, black-eyed peas, pumpkin, squash, or sweet potato. When you want to keep it simple, stick with soft, spreadable low-salt foods like mascarpone cheese, labneh, ricotta cheese, and yogurt—which taste extra creamy with a small dollop of smooth peanut butter whisked in for flavor.
Pediatrician & pediatric gastroenterologist
Pediatrician & pediatric allergist/immunologist
Pediatric occupational therapist, feeding & swallowing specialist, international board-certified lactation consultant
Speech-language pathologist, feeding & swallowing specialist
Speech-language pathologist & feeding therapist
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