How To Safely Introduce Nuts To Your Baby

How To Safely Introduce Nuts To Your Baby

My kids were babies just a few years ago, but at that time parents were told to avoid offering peanuts, almonds and other tree nuts until they were toddlers and as late as 3-years-old.

The food philosophy was meant to prevent babies from developing severe and life-threatening food allergies.

Nearly 8 percent of children in the U.S. have food allergies and peanuts are the most common allergen, according to a 2018 study in the journal Pediatrics.

In a short amount of time a lot has changed however. Now experts say introducing peanuts and tree nuts early on when babies start solids can actually prevent food allergies.

In January 2017, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) endorsed new guidelines from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in an effort to reduce the amount of kids with peanut allergies.

The updated recommendations came after a 2015 landmark study, the Learning Early About Peanut (LEAP) trial, which found that early introduction of peanuts can prevent peanut allergies in kids who are considered “high risk,” meaning those who have eczema and/or an egg allergy.

As a result, the AAP now recommends parents with babies who don’t have eczema or food allergies can “freely” introduce peanuts between 4 and 6 months of age.

Babies with mild or moderate eczema can be introduced to peanuts and tree nuts at 6-months of age.

Those with severe eczema and/or an egg allergy should also be introduced to peanuts and tree nuts between 4 and 6 months of age and after they have started other solids without any reactions, but they should also have allergy testing done beforehand.

Knowing whether your child has a moderate or high risk for food allergies can be tough, so air on the side of caution and talk with your pediatrician first before introducing nuts into your baby’s diet.

Nuts are a healthy first food for babies

 

For infants without food allergies, nuts can be one of the best first foods for babies.

Nuts are an excellent source of protein, and are high in omega-3 fatty acids which supports brain and eye health, and vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that protects cells from the damage of free radicals.

Here, learn how to safely introduce nuts to your baby.

Never feed your baby whole nuts

 

 

It goes without saying, but whole nuts are a chocking hazard for babies. The AAP says you shouldn’t introduce them into your baby’s diet until he can chew them well—probably around age 4 or 5.

Also, never feed your baby a spoonful of peanut butter or another nut butter, which is also a choking hazard.

Start slow

 

Once you get the green light from your baby’s pediatrician to introduce nuts into your baby’s diet, offer just a taste at first.

As long as your baby has no symptoms of an allergic reaction or an intolerance, you can gradually increase the amount the next time.

Offer a tiny taste

 

Peanut butter, almond butter and other types of nut butters are an ideal way to introduce nuts to your baby.

Since they’re so sticky however, make sure you mix a very small amount with yogurt, a vegetable or fruit puree or infant cereal. Blend it well and make sure the nut butter is super smooth and has a consistency your baby can handle.

Serve a spread of nut butter with finger foods

 

When your baby is ready for finger foods, spread a small amount of nut butter on toast, pancakes, or waffles or even soft fruits like bananas or pears.

Adding nut butter to finger foods is a great way to get protein, more nutrition and extra flavor into your baby’s diet.

Prepare a pesto sauce

 

Pesto is a healthy and delicious way to introduce nuts to your baby.

Since many types of store-bought pesto sauces are high in sodium however, make your own version with pine nuts, walnuts or almonds.

Add pesto to pasta, grain dishes, soups or vegetable purees.

Swap all purpose flour for almond flour

 

Using almond flour in your baking recipes is a great way to introduce nuts to your baby.

Almond flour has more protein than all-purpose flour, is gluten-free and quite tasty. Use it to make breads and muffins for your baby, but be mindful of the amount of sugar you use.

6 Tips To Manage Your Kid’s Food Allergies During The Holidays

6 Tips To Manage Your Kid’s Food Allergies During The Holidays

When you have a child with food allergies like I do, keeping them safe during holiday parties and family get-togethers can be challenging.

Between new types of foods, homemade dishes with secret ingredients and all those Christmas cookies, you’ll be laser-focused on what your kid can eat and what he must avoid.

Although managing your child’s food allergies can definitely be nerve-wracking, with some planning and a few simple strategies you can enjoy the holidays and keep your kid safe.

Here are 6 tips that will help.

1. Talk to the host

If you’ll be attending an event at someone else’s home, call the host and let them know about your child’s food allergies and what can happen if they accidentally ingest an allergen.

When you have a child with food allergies, the reality is that you are his biggest advocate.

Unless the host of the party has a child with food allergies, it’s unlikely that they’ll read food labels or even know how to read a label.

What’s more, most people don’t understand how serious an accidental exposure can be and may say a meal is safe, when it really isn’t.

While some hosts may go out of their way to check labels and read every ingredient they used, it’s always a good idea to ask what foods will be served so you’ll know what your kid will have to avoid.

2. Bring a safe dish and dessert

One of the best ways to keep your kids safe and make sure they’ll have something to eat is to bring a safe dish and a dessert that they and everyone else can enjoy, including guests who may have other dietary restrictions.

3. Supervise your kids

It goes without saying that if your kid is young, you must ask about the ingredients in every dish and choose foods carefully.

But since family and friends may give your kid something to eat without asking, it’s important to also watch your kids throughout the event too.

4. Talk with your kids

When kids are old enough to understand what it means to have food allergies, it’s important to talk to them about how to stay safe but without scaring them.

Make sure they know not to eat a food without asking you first and not to share foods with other kids who may also have food allergies.

5. Ask guests to bring a non-food item

When my daughter was 3-years-old, we attended a party at a neighbor’s house and while we were chatting, she tasted a dip that had nuts in it. Luckily, she only had hives and we gave her a dose of Benadryl, but it was a big wake up call to watch her more carefully.

If you’ll be hosting and grandma insists on bringing her famous cookies, there may not be much you can do. But if guests ask what they can bring, have a list of alternatives like a bottle of wine, another beverage, or festive napkins.

6. Plan non-food traditions

During the holidays, food is a big part of the festivities. But for kids with food allergies, they may feel left out if they can’t enjoy some of the food.

To take some of the focus off food, plan other activities or start new holiday traditions which will create magical memories your kids will remember for years to come.

5 Kids Health Conditions All Parents Should Worry About

5 Kids Health Conditions All Parents Should Worry About

If you’re like me, you probably worry about your kids health. Whether it’s a cold, a fever or food allergies, keeping them healthy is always top of mind. Although minor health problems will always be a concern, it’s the chronic health conditions I think about a lot—and I think you should too.

In the U.S. we’re facing sky-high rates of chronic health conditions like obesity, heart disease and stroke, and depression and anxiety.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2012, approximately 50 percent of adults had one or more chronic health condition and 1 in 4 had two or more chronic health conditions.

What may surprise you is that kids are not immune either. According to a February 2010 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, between 13 and 27 percent of children have chronic health conditions. Experts predict not only will kids be less healthy than older generations, but they’ll live shorter lives too.

What I think we get wrong in the U.S. is that we treat these conditions in adulthood and often times, it’s too late. Doctors prescribe pills and chalk up health problems to age. For those who are lucky, their doctors might talk about diet, getting exercise and losing weight but because of a lack of nutrition knowledge coupled with short appointments, what they offer isn’t much.

If we placed more of an emphasis on teaching our kids how to eat healthy, have healthy eating habits and move everyday, so many of these chronic health conditions and diseases could be avoided.

If we don’t do something about it now—à la eat healthy ourselves, feed our kids healthy foods and teach them healthy eating habits—these are some of the chronic health conditions our kids can look forward to.

1. Obesity

According to 2015 poll by U.S. News and World Report, childhood obesity is the number one kids health condition parents worry about. The CDC estimates one in 6 kids and teens are obese, which can lead to health conditions like high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes—conditions not previously seen in kids.

Without education or effective interventions, most of these kids will grow up to be obese adults and have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, autoimmune diseases, joint problems, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), osteoarthritis, fatty liver disease, kidney disease and certain types of cancer.

2. Type-2 Diabetes

According to the CDC, 30.3 million people in the U.S. have type-2 diabetes and rates of the disease are on the rise in kids too.

Although diabetes can be genetic and it’s unclear the precise factors that causes it, diet and lifestyle have a lot to do with it. A diet high in calories, refined grains and sugar and low in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can increase your risk, as well as being overweight.

3. Depression

Rates of anxiety and depression in the U.S. are on the rise. According to the National Institutes of Health, in 2016, approximately 16.2 million people had at least one depressive episode. Plus, an April 2018 study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics found more than 1 in 20 children in the U.S. have anxiety or depression.

As someone who has suffered with anxiety and depression for most of my life, I recognize that these conditions can be genetic, biological, a result of illness, trauma, stress, death or loss but studies show diet also plays a role. According to a December 2017 study in the journal BMJ Public Health a healthy diet is positively linked to better physiological well-being, less emotional problems, better relationships with other kids and higher self-esteem.

4. Obstructive Sleep Apnea

According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million adults and between 1 and 10 percent of children in the U.S. have obstructive sleep apnea. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to insomnia, behavioral problems, hyperactivity, irritability, high blood pressure, depression and daytime sleepiness.

Although sleep apnea can be caused by many factors, one of the main causes is excessive weight and obesity.

5. Autoimmune Diseases

Approximately 50 million people in the U.S. have an autoimmune disease, like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, the root causes of the inflammation behind autoimmunity include stress, hidden infections, food allergies or sensitivities, toxins, genetic predisposition, nutritional deficiencies, and leaky gut—some of which are a direct result of diet.

You might think the foods your kids eat and their eating habits won’t have much of an effect on them, now or later. Maybe your kids will be one of the lucky ones but that’s not a risk I’m willing to take.

Food Allergies: Food Substitutions for 8 Common Allergens  Kids with food allergies don't have to miss out on delicious and healthy foods with these simple swaps.

Food Allergies: Food Substitutions for 8 Common Allergens

Kids with food allergies don't have to miss out on delicious and healthy foods with these simple swaps.

If your children are among the nearly 6 million children in the U.S. who have food allergies, you know avoidance is the first step. Yet if the foods your kids are allergic to are also a significant source of nutrition, it’s important to know what food substitutions they can eat to get the vitamins, minerals and key nutrients they need.

Here are 8 of the most common food allergens and food substitutions to consider in your child’s diet.

1. Milk

A cow’s milk allergy is the most common food allergy in babies and young children. About 2.5 percent of children under the age of 3 are allergic to milk, according to FARE.

Cow’s milk is found in many obvious foods like butter, ghee, cheese, yogurt and sour cream as well as chocolate, baked goods and even tuna fish.

Milk is a good source of calcium but there are plenty of healthy food substitutions like plant-based milks such as coconut milk, almond milk and cashew milk. Other calcium-rich foods include leafy green vegetables, sardines and tofu.

2. Peanuts

When I was a child, it seemed that the only thing kids ate for lunch were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. With the rise in peanut allergies however, all that has changed. It’s estimated that up to 5 percent of kids have a peanut allergy, according to a 2014 study in the The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Plus, kids who are allergic to peanuts have between a 25 and 40 percent chance of also being allergic to tree nuts, one study found.

If your child is allergic to peanuts and peanut butter (but not allergic to tree nuts), try soy butter, sunflower seed butter, almond butter, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.

3. Eggs

Eggs are a tricky food allergy especially since they’re used in many foods like baked goods or freshly prepared, ready-to-go meals you’ll find in the grocery store.

Eggs are an excellent source of protein and choline, but if your kids are allergic to eggs, try kidney beans, beef, salmon, turkey or chicken breast which also have these nutrients. When baking, any fruit puree or ground flaxseed makes for a good egg substitute.

4. Tree Nuts

Almonds, cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts and Brazil nuts are a good source of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. They also make for a healthy, easy and convenient snack for summer road trips or when you’re running around after-school.

The good news is that your kid may be allergic to certain tree nuts and not the others. If he’s allergic to all of them however, you can get the same nutrition that you get from nuts with seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, and chia seeds.

 

5. Wheat

If your kid is allergic to wheat, has Celiac disease or is gluten-free for another reason, it can be tough to find a food substitution.

But gluten-free flours like coconut flour and oat flour are easy swaps for baking and gluten-free grains like rice, millet and teff, or seeds like quinoa provide plenty of fiber and B vitamins kids need.

6. Fish and Shellfish

About 40 percent of people with a fish allergy and 60 percent of those with a shellfish allergy experience their first reaction as an adult, according to FARE.

If your kid is allergic to either one however, he’ll have to find other sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Eggs, beef, poultry, lentils and beans are all great foods to fill the void.

7. Soybeans

About .4 percent of kids have a soy allergy so avoiding foods like tofu, tempeh and many processed, packaged foods that contain soy will help keep your child safe.

To replace the nutrition from soy, add in beans, lentils and quinoa—all of which are high in protein and fiber.

8. Sesame

Sesame isn’t usually considered a top allergen but experts say although it’s unclear how many kids are allergic to sesame, it’s on the rise in the U.S.

The scary truth about sesame is that federal law doesn’t require food manufacturers to list sesame as an allergen on their packaging. It may not always be possible to avoid packaged foods but it’s the best way to prevent an allergic reaction.

Sesame is a good source of protein, fiber, calcium and magnesium but you can get these nutrients through other foods such as pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds and green leafy vegetables.

9 Healthy and Easy Egg-Free Breakfast Ideas For Kids

9 Healthy and Easy Egg-Free Breakfast Ideas For Kids

You already know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and with an excellent source of protein and choline (to support memory), eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

 

Yet what if your kids don’t like eggs, omelets, or a frittata?

 

Scrambling (no pun intended) to get your kids off to daycare or school in the morning is tough enough.

 

If your kid refuses to eat eggs or you’re simply looking for egg-free breakfast ideas, the good news is that there are several healthy and easy breakfast options they’ll willingly eat. Here are 9.

 

1. Avocado Toast

 

Avocado is chock full of nutrition, and high in fiber and healthy fats. When it’s paired with whole grain toast and vegetables or fruit, it also makes for a healthy and easy egg-free breakfast.

 

2. Breakfast Burrito

 

I know what you’re thinking: I can’t get my kids to eat beans for dinner, they’ll never eat it them for breakfast.

 

Stay with me, mama.

 

Beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber which will give your kids plenty of energy and brain power until lunch time and the more often you serve them—at breakfast or at other meals—the more likely your kids will eat them.

 

Try putting out beans with their favorite extras: salsa, avocado, cheese and a whole wheat tortilla and let them make their own breakfast burrito or fajita. Or make a batch of bean burgers on the weekend for a quick and easy egg-free breakfast option during the week.

3. Overnight Oats

 

Cooking oatmeal in the morning takes time but putting together individual mason jars of overnight oats takes just a few minutes. Start with rolled oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill) and add milk, fruit and chia seeds and you have a healthy and easy egg-free breakfast ready by the time your kids wake up.

4. Parfait

 

Greek yogurt is an excellent source of calcium and protein and a parfait for breakfast couldn’t easier. Since most yogurt brands have plenty of added sugar, stick with plain Greek yogurt and add fresh fruit like raspberries and a low-sugar granola for extra fiber.

 

5. Green Smoothie

 

I make a spinach smoothie every morning for myself but my kids always ask to have some. Although I never advocate for sneaking vegetables into meals, a smoothie is an excellent way to get in a lot of nutrition in a few sips.

 

When making smoothies, stick to the 80/20 rule: 80 percent vegetables and 20 percent fruit. Add in a protein source like a nut butter, and chia seeds for omega-3 fatty acids and extra fiber, and you have a healthy and easy egg-free breakfast for your kids.

 

 

6. Breakfast bars

Grabbing a protein or breakfast bar is quick and simple, but most bars are high in sugar and contain artificial ingredients.

Instead, make your own breakfast bars with whole ingredients like oats, dried fruit and nuts or seeds.

7. Chia Seed Pudding

High in fiber, protein, and a good source of potassium and omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods your kids can eat.

Serving chia seed pudding is a healthy and easy breakfast for your kids and because it seems like a treat, chances are your kids will love it. Add your kid’s favorite fresh fruit and a hint of sweetener and breakfast is served.

8. Tofu

An excellent source of plant protein, calcium and iron, tofu is also excellent replacement for eggs. Make a tofu “scramble,” add sliced tofu to whole grain bread or serve solo.

9. Leftovers

Who says kids should eat “breakfast” foods for breakfast? If your kid enjoys last night’s grilled chicken, salmon or a turkey and cheese roll-up, let it be. Add veggies or a piece of fruit and a healthy grain like quinoa for a healthy and balanced meal.