I get asked about WHAT peanut or nut butter is best to give to babies ALL the time. So I’m finally addressing it in a blog post and with a really comprehensive infographic. This should help to give a clear answer. It’s important to remember that WHOLE NUTS are not recommended until babies are 5 years of age, and so offering nuts in ground or nut butter form is ideal.
What is a ‘nut butter’?
Recently I’ve been asked a lot what I mean by “nut butter” and if I’m just referring to peanut butter when I say this. Although this is the most common nut butter in our homes in the UK, there are plenty of other options out there these days. Including peanut, cashew, almond, hazelnut and brazil nut. Most nut butters are fairly readily available and you can also often make your own in some wholefoods stores, if you’re lucky enough to have access!
Why is peanut butter a good option for babies?
Peanut butter and other nut butters are a good option for babies. It’s often a simple, delicious and convenient way of getting some extra nutrients (and calories) into your baby or toddler’s diet. Nut butters can be a source of fibre, protein and healthy fats. As well as containing minerals such as magnesium, calcium, iron and vitamin E (it varies from nut to nut however, another reason why variety is important!)
It’s also a good source of energy and nutrients for babies on a plant-based diet too.
On top of this nut butters can make for a great flavouring for your baby. And you can add it to so many things including porridge, curries, pudding, toast or even as a simple dip with veggies – so many options. I honestly use it MOST days in my house for the kids (or myself!)
When can I give peanut butters to my baby?
You can offer these from around 6 months of age, after baby’s first tastes. When it comes to whether to offer peanut butters or other nut butters to your baby, it really doesn’t matter. As is the case with everything – variety is key!
However, from an allergy perspective it is best to start by introducing peanut butter specifically EARLY ON in the weaning journey (after egg) as a first allergen. Check out my blog all about HOW to introduce allergens during weaning for more info on the best way to offer nut butters (especially peanut) for the first time. After this, other nut butters can be offered. But you also need to follow allergy guidelines for these the first time you offer each of them to your baby.
Whichever nuts you commonly have as a family are ideal ones to introduce to your baby. At home we love cashew nut butter and almond butter, alongside standard peanut butter. But we sometimes also get brazil and hazelnuts too.
Which type of peanut butter or nut butter should we choose for babies and young children?
This is actually pretty simple. You just need to look out for two things:
1.) The nut butter has NO added salt or sugar. Ideally you want it to just be 100% nuts (either cashew, or peanut etc). But a little oil is sometimes added too, which is fine (try to choose sustainable oils where you can though!).
See my blog here on reading food labels, which might help you to suss out if your nut butter is 100% nut!
2.) Go for smooth peanut butter for babies and young toddlers. Just to ensure there aren’t any large lumps of nuts and because babies aren’t recommended to have whole nuts until they are 4 years of age.
So, that’s all you need to look out for when choosing to offer them to babies and young children/toddlers.
Which brand of nut butter is best for infants and toddlers?
I don’t normally recommend a specific brand of nut butter. Go with one your family likes and offer it to your kids as long as it meets the two criteria above. I find that supermarkets are now doing their own brand varieties. And quite often, they offer a variety of different nuts too. These can be just as delicious and a lot cheaper than some of the branded options out there. However, we do like to buy our preferred nut butters in bulk as we eat them a lot!
I have to confess that I also have a separate nut butter option for me (not for the kids) in the cupboard, as I do tend to have mine with a little added salt!
For more information on first foods for your little one, my book How to Wean Your Baby gives you all the knowledge you need to feed your baby with confidence.