With the growing number of children suffering from peanut allergies today, parents may be wary of feeding their infants anything containing the nut. However, research suggests that this fear could be exactly what has caused this sudden surge in peanut allergies over the past decade. Did you know that recent studies found that exposure to peanuts at an early age could actually prevent the development of allergies, and that avoiding peanuts altogether could be causing the hypersensitivity? Though it is essential to consult with your pediatrician first (especially if your child has eczema and/or other allergies), this research is certainly worth examining. Read on to learn more about this illuminating investigation, and which organic peanut product is best for infants and toddlers to safely try first.

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In 2015 a landmark study published by the The New England Journal of Medicine compared high allergy risk infants who ate peanut food to those who did not. It found that far fewer children developed the peanut allergy if they had ingested peanut food. The results were a strong indication that introducing peanuts at a young age actually reduces the risk of developing a peanut intolerance.

Last year we reported on these findings, but also expressed concern about certain members of the peanut industry funding the research. Regardless of your stance on the matter, it’s definitely not easy to alter a behavior that our culture has embraced for so long. Since 1990, most doctors told parents to withhold peanut food from infants in order to reduce their risk of developing an allergy, but by 2008 peanut allergies in kids nearly quadrupled. Research has also shown that instances of peanut allergies are scarce in countries where infants routinely eat peanut food.

It’s clear that continued research on the matter would give parents more peace of mind, and it is best to talk with your pediatrician before you decide what is right for your child. Being that the fats and proteins in peanut butter are incredibly nutritious, and especially beneficial to kids who are not eating dairy, meat or eggs, feeding your child peanut food is definitely something to consider.

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If you and your doctor decide that it’s safe to feed your infant peanuts — well, then what? Since peanuts and peanut butter can be a choking hazard for very young children, you may want to explore alternatives. If your child is over 1 year of age, you can try giving her or him a small teaspoon of natural peanut butter at a time on crackers or from a spoon. However, experts believe that peanut food needs to be consumed prior to 10 months of age to help prevent the development of a peanut allergy. For younger babies, we found that Cheeky Monkey makes a 100% organic peanut butter puff that’s especially good for infants (but quite suitable for any age). Developed by a pediatrician who has been practicing for 27 years and a vegan Israeli mother of four, Cheeky Monkey was made to be the “Perfect First Peanut Food” for infants. These puffs melt in the mouth and are non-GMO, high in protein, gluten-free, and contain no added sugar, flavors or preservatives. The nutty bites contain only organic peanut butter, organic corn, organic palm oil and salt. They’re also a healthy snack option for any aged kid (and yourself) to enjoy in between meals. So if you do decide to try this, by all means, go nuts.

Have you fed your infant peanuts? And if not, would you give it a try? Tell us in the comments.