Bamba: Perfect Peanut Food for Baby Led Weaning
It was big news for babies last week when the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued clinical guidelines saying it is now recommended to start introducing peanuts to babies as early as 4 to 6 months to reduce the risk of developing peanut allergy.
But how exactly do you feed a baby peanuts if he is only 6 moths old?
- You can't give a baby whole peanuts as they are clearly a choking hazard
- You also can't give a baby peanut butter which is also a choking hazard
Why We are Big on Bamba
We are big baby led weaning fans in my family, and for my baby quadruplets I started them on peanut protein at 6 months of age by using a product called Bamba.
Bamba is a peanut butter-flavored puffed corn snack from Israel and babies in Israel are routinely offered Bamba. It’s kind of similar to the way many American families use puffs.
But there’s a big difference between puffs and Bamba, because Bamba presents a safe and age-appropriate way to introduce your baby to peanuts.
I love Bamba because:
- They're individually packaged so they make a great portable peanut snack for babies on the go
- They're the perfect size for little finger so they work great with baby led weaning
- You can order them online - any product the internet can bring to my house is a winner :)
Here's a video on how and why we use Bamba with our baby quadruplets:
Reading Up on the Research
An increasing amount of published research is indicating that earlier introduction of potentially allergenic foods, such as peanuts, may actually be protective against later food allergy development.
Studies suggest that the much lower rate of peanut allergy in Israel children (about 1/10 of that of Jewish children in Britain) can be explained that Israeli infants eat high amount of peanut protein in the first year of life (from Bamba) whereas British parents avoided giving such foods.
An NIH-funded study called Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) and published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2015 showed that eating peanut protein regularly when begun in infancy and continued until 5 years of age resulted in an 81 percent reduction in the development of peanut allergy. This looked at over 600 infants who were at high risk because they already had severe eczema, egg allergy or both.
These findings were the impetus behind the revised peanut allergy prevention guidelines for early introduction in babies. You can read an Addendum Summary for Parents and Caregivers on the new guidelines by clicking here.
Be Smart About Starting Peanut Protein
Although the new guidelines represent a pretty marked shift in the public's thought about peanuts for babies, there are still situations where introducing peanuts that early may not be appropriate. Any family with high risk for allergy should always talk to a pediatrician about introduction of potentially allergenic foods.
For more great information about food allergy check out Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) at foodallergy.org.