Most kids love the taste of peanut butter, making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich an easy option for feeding a picky child; therefore many parents would like to introduce this food to their children as soon as possible. However, due to choking and allergy risks, this should not be one of the very first foods given to children.
Peanut butter provides a lot of beneficial nutrients to children. This includes monunsaturated fats, protein, iron, the B vitamins and vitamin E. It is also a concentrated source of calories, which is important since small children have small stomachs and don't necessarily eat a lot at one sitting.
Although the Food Standards Agency of the UK says that it is fine to give children over 6 months peanut butter as long as your family doesn't have a history of allergies, many physicians recommend waiting until your baby is at least 1 year old for peanut butter and at least 3 years old for peanuts, since these are a choking hazard.
Large globs of peanut butter and peanut butter fed from a spoon are a choking hazard, so when you do introduce this food to your child you should spread it thinly, according to DrSpock.com.
Those children who are at high risk of developing allergies should not be given peanut butter until they are 3 years old, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. This recommendation only applies to those who have other allergies or come from families with allergies.
Although it used to be recommended that children from families with a history of allergies wait until anywhere from 3 to 7 years of age to try peanut butter, a 2008 study by G. Dutoit published in the "Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology" showed that children who wait to eat peanuts until late in childhood could actually be at higher risk of developing peanut allergies. However, further study is needed in this area before recommendations are revised.
When you first introduce peanut butter, you should give your baby just a small amount and wait to see if there are any signs of an allergic reaction, says the UK Food Standards Agency. Those with children at high risk of allergies should check with their doctor to see when they should introduce their child to peanut butter, since this allergy, if present, can be quite severe.