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 a baby may have a peanut allergy or if a baby has severe eczema, consult 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.
As with all food allergens, it’s best to start small. Serve a scant amount (such as a pinch of ground peanut or 1/8 of a teaspoon of smooth peanut butter) during the first few meals and watch closely, as reactions don’t always occur at first. If there is no adverse reaction after several meals, gradually increase the quantity of the serving over the next couple of days.
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. Your child is an individual and may have needs or considerations beyond generally accepted practices. In determining the recommendations for size and shape of foods, we use the best available scientific information regarding gross, fine, and oral motor development to minimize choking risk. The preparation suggestions we offer are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for child-specific, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional or provider. It is impossible to fully eliminate all risk of a baby or child choking on any liquid, puree, or food. We advise you to follow all safety protocols we suggest to create a safe eating environment and to make educated choices for your child regarding their specific needs. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
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 severe eczema, egg allergy, or both). For most 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, unsalted peanut butter with hot water (let cool before serving) and offer the thinned peanut butter 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, unsalted peanut butter or peanut flour/powder with fruit or vegetable puree in equal parts. If you are introducing peanut mixed with a fruit or vegetable purée, 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 it was the peanut and not the purée.
Once the food is at the desired consistency and temperature, 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 towards your finger or the spoon tip). 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 solids. 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 its protective benefit against the development of peanut allergy.
Thin unsalted, smooth peanut butter out with water, breast milk, formula or purées like applesauce and either serve on its own for finger painting or mix into other foods like yogurt (if dairy has been introduced) or other scoopable foods. Alternatively you can 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.
At this age you spread unsalted, smooth peanut butter on toast, pancakes, bread and bagels and no longer need to thin it with water or other liquids. Avoid large globs of peanut butter and continue to finely grind whole peanuts.
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 cup paint
Whisk the peanut butter and applesauce until smooth—like paint!—in a wide enough bowl for baby’s hands to reach inside.
Cut the banana in half crosswise. Peel one half and cut into spears. One quick way to do this: poke your index finger into the center of the cut side and push. The pressure naturally splits the fruit into spears.
Roll the banana spears in the ground peanut. Store the other half of banana in the fridge for a future meal—or snack on it as baby eats!
Serve: Place the banana spears and bowl of peanut butter “paint” in front of baby. Let baby self-feed by trying to scoop the banana spears and paint. Show baby how to dip the spears (or little fingers!) in the bowl and paint on the surface in front of them.
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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