Peanuts and tree nuts (like almonds and walnuts) are not only among the major allergy-triggering foods, they're also more likely to cause serious or life-threatening reactions and are a choking hazard for babies and young children. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests you wait until your child is 4 before offering nuts; chop nuts into teeny pieces if you give them to your child earlier. Since peanut butter and other nut butters aren't a choking hazard if spread thinly, it's fine to spread some on bits of bread or crackers after 12 months. (Though if you have a family history of allergies, your pediatrician may suggest you wait longer).
Although most children are not allergic to nuts, it is important to pay attention for signs of a reaction after your kid tries them. Common food allergy symptoms include:
• A rash
• Runny nose
• Swelling of the lips and face
• Itchy eyes
If you spot these and suspect allergies, call your pediatrician. They usually clear up within a few hours with a little help from an antihistamine like Benadryl.
Severe reactions can trigger the above symptoms plus these:
• Trouble breathing
• Itchy mouth and throat
• Pale, bluish complexion
• Low pulse
For a serious reaction or if you suspect your child is going into anaphylactic shock, you should go to the emergency room right away. The sooner it's treated (with epinephrine and/or steroids), the better.
Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.