Peanuts, cashews and almonds -- oh my! With changing guidelines and new recommendations, the world of introducing foods to your toddler can be confusing. The American Academy of Pediatrics is the leading governing body when it comes to making choices in your toddler's diet and you might need to brush up on the latest information on introducing nuts, delaying foods and preventing allergies.
In 2003, the AAP released a report through its journal, "Pediatrics," that offered recommendations for methods of allergy prevention in babies and children. Originally, the guidelines suggested that parents not introduce tree nuts to their children until they were 36 months of age. The idea within the report was that if you introduced your child to nuts later in life, there was a smaller chance that he'd develop an allergy to them.
After consideration and research, the AAP has released new guidelines for giving your little one that peanut-butter sandwich. Instead of waiting until age 3, the AAP has stated that there is no benefit in waiting to offer your child nuts. Instead, the AAP notes that it's fine to give your child nuts and nut products as soon as you begin offering solid food, which they suggest at 6 months of age. In a nutshell, the old rules no longer apply and, according to the APP, you can begin giving your toddler nut products as you introduce other solids.
If you have a family history of nut allergies, use extra caution when introducing your toddler to nut products. Talk to your pediatrician beforehand and she can suggest some products and foods that would work well as your child's first exposure to nuts. Watch for a reaction and remember that it might not always be in the form of breathing difficulties, since food allergies can also cause hives, eczema and sores and redness around the mouth.
If you were previously following the old AAP guidelines but are ready to offer your toddler -- or even preschooler -- nuts for the first time, remember that your little one still might not be a champion chewer. Soft nut products, like peanut butter or slivered almonds are a safer bet than full nuts -- while they might not be a risk for early allergies, they still carry a choking hazard. A thin layer of peanut butter on a piece of toast or a handful of slivered almonds tossed into a bowl of oatmeal can get your child used to the taste and texture as nuts become a more common part of your little one's diet.