When it comes to introducing new food to babies, mothers are always in a dilemma because they don’t have enough sources to refer.The first thing that comes to our mind about nuts is the peanut allergy. Earlier it was said if you eat peanuts during pregnancy , the baby may get food allergies. According to latest studies it has all proven wrong.
The most confusing issue for moms is introducing allergen-causing foods, which include nuts, seeds and dry fruits. Nuts are nutritious for your baby. Introducing nuts is a much-discussed topic because earlier it was said that the allergen causing foods like nuts, egg white etc should only be given after 1 year. But in 2008 and later, a few studies found out that there is no evidence in delaying the allergen causing foods like peanuts, eggs, or fish beyond 6 months instead earlier introduction of the common food allergen leads to lower risk of food allergy. I guess this is the reason why Indians compared to Americans have a lower risk of food allergy.
Nuts and dry fruits:Choking and Allergy
But there are certainly other things to keep in mind before introducing nuts because it causes choking. Parents should never give babies, whole nuts as such.
When introducing nuts, It is important to watch for allergy especially If you or your family members have any kind of food allergy. In such cases, it is better to give it after introducing other foods, carefully watching and knowing the signs and symptoms of food allergy. You can give almonds, cashews, pista, dates, fig one at a time and wait for 3 or 4 days before introducing the next one so that you can rule out any allergy. If your baby is allergic to nuts, her body identifies these food as a foreign body and start producing antibodies to fight off the food that inturn result in releasing certain chemicals like histamine and mast cells which produce the allergy symptoms
The symptoms of food allergy you should be aware are
- Skin rashes and itching
- Nausea and vomiting
If you suspect any of the above symptoms, you should immediately reach to your pediatrician.
How to introduce nuts into baby’s diet
Nuts and dry fruits help in brain development, nerves and muscle development, improve immunity, prevent anemia, anti-inflammatory and contain anti oxidants.
The common nuts and dry fruits available in India are almonds, peanuts, pistachios, cashews, figs, walnuts and dates. Since nuts and dry fruits are potentially choking hazards you cant give it, as such. Always introduce each one individually, before combining all together.
You can soak the nuts and dry fruits overnight or in warm water then grind it to paste. Add this paste to your baby’s food like purees, dosas, cheela, chapathi, gravies, pancake batter, sauces, smoothies, porridge, yoghurts etc. when introducing for the first time the quantity should be in small amount gradually increasing the amount
After that, you can powder each one of the nuts after roasting it in a dry pan. This powder can be added to all baby’s food
After exposing each one separately, you can roast each nuts separately and powder it together and make mini ladoos or balls without sugar. Other options are peanut and almond butter, purees, almond milk, dry fruits kheer with formula milk, pista and fig flavored hung curd etc.
- Soaking helps in better absorption of nutrients
- Soft dry fruits like dates, figs, and apricots should also be soaked before making the paste. The dates and apricots should be deseeded
- It is better to peel off the skin of almonds and dates as it can irritate the baby’s throat. Same goes with powdering- make sure it is finely powdered
- It is always better to use organic one especially cashews, raisins and dates due to high pesticide content. Roasting at home is better than buying the roasted one.
This article was originally written by our author Dr.Shahana for Zenparent