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With lots of stories about allergies, many new parents are skeptical of giving their babies nut or peanut foods. But new guidelines specifically for “B24” (that is, birth-24 months) shows the important role nuts and peanuts can play in a child’s growth and development.

Packed with nutrients, nuts and peanuts have been shown to help with the growth of a child’s brain and body.

“The dietary guidelines are based on the latest nutrition research and science so they are at the forefront of what Americans of all ages should be eating for optimal health,” says Dr. Samara Sterling, a nutrition scientist and research director for The Peanut Institute. “In terms of childhood nutrition, peanuts and peanut butter are an affordable way to deliver nutrient-rich foods during B24.”

Nuts and peanuts are a great source of iron, zinc and protein. Plus, they are considered a “healthy fat” which little ones need for brain development.

“For both children and adults, peanuts and peanut butter are considered superfoods, which means they’re nutrient dense,” says Sterling. “For example, just a small serving of peanuts or peanut butter delivers 19 vitamins and minerals, many of which are critical to a child’s development.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing complementary foods into a baby’s diet at around six months and this is the right time to start incorporating peanut products. You shouldn’t give babies whole peanuts or sticky foods due to choking risk, but you can thin out peanut butter with water and mix it into rice cereal. As children get older, thinned out peanut butter can be paired with soft vegetables.

As for allergies, research shows that early introduction greatly reduces the risk of a nut or peanut allergy. Down the line, eating peanuts is associated with better weight management and heart health for kids and adults.

“The eating habits that are established during our childhood have a significant impact on our health for years to come,” says Sterling. “The Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide an excellent nutrition roadmap for everyone from infants to seniors.”

Speak to your pediatrician about incorporating this superfood into your baby’s diet. One more bonus — The Peanut Institute also says that eating peanuts has been shown to reduce anxiety, so make a PB&J for yourself, mama!

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