Introducing Tree Nuts

Hands holding assorted nuts
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Tree nuts are on the big 8 list of food allergies and not only that, they are considered (along with milk, eggs, and peanuts) to be highly allergenic for children under 4. When is it safe to feed them to your baby?

What Are Tree Nuts?

Tree nuts (for the purpose of food allergies) include the following and if any of these are present, a warning will be included on food labels stating that the product contains tree nuts:

  • Almonds
  • Beech Nuts
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Butternuts
  • Cashews
  • Chestnuts
  • Chinquapins
  • Coconuts
  • Filberts
  • Ginko Nuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Hickory Nuts
  • Lichee Nuts
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine or Pinon Nuts
  • Pili Nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Shea Nuts
  • Walnuts

You can introduce tree nuts as soon as your child is showing interest in solid foods (see more on solid foods and food allergies and how to introduce foods safely). Some of these nuts can be choking hazards, so be sure to chop them into appropriate sizes or grind them into butter or milk before serving. If your child has a known allergy to nuts, also be careful about cooking oils and additives that are in soaps, lotions and other things you might be putting on your baby's skin.

For instance, I am allergic to coconuts (though other tree nuts do not bother me). Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a common soap ingredient and it causes me to immediately break out into a red, itchy rash. Shea butter is also a common lotion ingredient from shea nuts.

If your baby is breaking out in an unexplained rash, even if there doesn't seem to be an offending food, be sure to keep soaps and lotions when talking to your health care provider. Even mild, environmentally friendly brands like Ecover contain coconut oil and surfactants derived from coconuts.

Whether or not you have a history, the first time you introduce tree nuts, be sure to watch for the signs of an allergic reaction (hives, difficulty breathing or asthma symptoms, swelling of the mouth or throat, vomiting or diarrhea and loss of consciousness), know how to respond and be ready to call 9-1-1 immediately.

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