Peanut / Peanut Butter

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Common Allergen: Yes (
  • Peanut
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May cause allergic reactions.

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a pile of roasted peanuts on a table before being prepared for babies starting solid food

When can babies eat peanuts?

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.

Background and origins of peanuts

Real talk: peanut makes people nervous. And for good reason: peanut is one of the most common food allergens in children.1 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.2 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.3

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.

Are peanuts healthy for babies?

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.4 6 7 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).8 9 10 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.11 12 13 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.14

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.15 While it is lacking in fat, it still contains significant amounts of fiber, protein, and micronutrients such as zinc, vitamin B6, and folate.16

★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.17

Is peanut butter healthy for 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”.

Is peanut oil okay for babies?

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 reserve unrefined peanut oil for a splash of flavor in a dish and choose refined peanut oil for high heat cooking 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.

Is peanut flour healthy for babies?

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.18 While peanut flour lacks fat, it still contains significant amounts of fiber, protein, and micronutrients such as zinc, vitamin B6, and folate.

Are peanuts a common choking hazard for babies?

Yes. All nuts, nut pieces, and nut butters are choking hazards for babies and children.19 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.

For more information, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with common choking hazards.

Are peanuts a common allergen?

Yes. Peanut allergies in children are on the rise, with a greater risk among babies with severe eczema or an existing egg allergy.20 If you believe a baby may have a peanut allergy or if a baby has severe eczema, consult a pediatric allergist before introducing peanuts.

Unfortunately, peanut allergies tend to be lifelong. Only about 20% of children outgrow a peanut allergy.21 Furthermore, kids who are allergic to peanuts have a greater chance (between 25 and 40%) of being allergic to one or more tree nuts.22 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.23

A groundbreaking study demonstrated that the early introduction of peanuts could significantly reduce the risk of developing a peanut allergy later.24 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.25

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 next couple days.

How do you prepare peanuts for babies with baby-led weaning?

infographic showing how to serve peanuts to babies by age. For 4 months+, bowl of thinned out peanut butter (thinned with water, breastmilk or formula). For 6 months+, bowl of thinned out peanut butter and fruit coated in chopped peanuts. For 12+ months, peanut butter spread on bread. For 24 months+, whole peanuts.

4 to 6 months old: 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 the early introduction of the allergen is desirable (due to pre-existing risk factors for the development of peanut allergy such as severe eczema, egg allergy, or both).

To introduce peanut between 4 and 6 months of age you can thin the prescribed amount of smooth, unsalted peanut butter with hot water (let cool before serving) and offer the thinned peanut butter to your baby from your fingertip or from a pre-loaded spoon or use peanut flour or powdered peanut butter and combine equal parts of those with equal parts fruit or vegetable puree. Note: Starting solids early can be associated with unhealthy weight gain (both in infancy and early childhood).26 Therefore, our strong opinion is that it’s best to hold off on purées and simply introduce peanut as a thinned peanut butter from your fingertip.

Once the food is at the desired consistency and temperature, offer a small taste of the mixture (the tip of a teaspoon, for example). Wait 10 minutes, and if there are no signs of an allergic reaction, continue gradually feeding the remaining serving of the peanut-containing food at your baby’s natural feeding pace. Don’t worry if baby doesn’t finish the whole thing. 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 is able to tolerate the introduction of peanut into the diet, continue offering peanut at least twice a week. Studies show that sustained inclusion of peanut in the diet is key to its protective benefit against the development of peanut allergy.27

6 to 9 months old: 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.

9 to 12 months old: Continue to mix unsalted, smooth peanut butter into soft, scoopable foods, roll slippery foods in finely ground peanuts to add grip, and use peanut oil for cooking vegetables, grains, and other whole foods.

12 to 24 months old: 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.

24 months old and up: 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.28 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.

Recipe: Peanut Butter-Apple “Paint”

three banana spears coated in ground peanut, sitting on a countertop next to a pile of peanut butter/applesauce mixture

Yield: ½ cup paint
Time: 5 minutes
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon smooth peanut butter (no added salt or sugar)
  • ½ cup no sugar added applesauce
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 teaspoon ground peanut (unsalted, raw or roasted)

Directions

  1. Whisk the peanut butter and applesauce until smooth—like paint!—in a wide enough bowl for baby’s hands to reach inside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.

This recipe contains a common allergen: peanut. Only serve to your child after this allergen has been safely introduced.

Flavor Pairings

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.  

Reviewed by

J. Truppi, MSN, CNS

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT

S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. (allergy section)

R. Ruiz, MD Board-Certified General Pediatrician and Pediatric Gastroenterologist

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  4. Ros E. (2010). Health benefits of nut consumption. Nutrients, 2(7), 652–682. DOI:10.3390/nu2070652. Retrieved February 25, 2021
  5. University of Florida. (2004, Dec. 11). Peanuts Rival Fruit As Source of Health Antioxidants, UF Researchers Say. [Press release]. Retrieved February 25, 2021/efn_note] 5Malaguarnera L. (2019). Influence of Resveratrol on the Immune Response. Nutrients, 11(5), 946. DOI:10.3390/nu11050946. Retrieved March 10, 2021
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  10.  Attalla, K., De, S., Monga, M. (2014). Oxalate content of food: a tangled web. Urology, 84(3), 555–560. DOI:10.1016/j.urology.2014.03.053. Retrieved February 25, 2021
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