If you are pregnant or have a newborn, you’ve probably been given the advice of “introduce peanuts early and often”. As I write this post, I am literally laughing and cringing at the same time. This advice is so misleading, so absurd, and so dangerous that I cannot believe people are spreading this information and doctor’s are posting flyers in their exam rooms stating such.
Let me be clear, I am not a doctor or a medical professional. Now let me be even MORE clear, my son could have very well ended up in the hospital, or dead, if I had followed that simple advice. Fortunately for him, I like to make rules, not follow them.
I am not saying that peanut products should not be given to babies. Rather, I am saying parents need to be given more information than just the short tidbit of ‘early and often’.
Pediatricians recommend introducing peanut products to babies as early as four to six months. Great. Fine by me. However, this recommendation should not be given to ALL parents for ALL babies in a simple snapshot.
Here is MY advice:
Look for warning signs and get a blood test done if you’re even the slightest bit concerned. If you haven’t seen any warning signs and aren’t concerned, feed away!
Warning signs? What warning signs? We had dozens of repeated warning signs when Gene was a baby; we just didn’t know that’s what they were. The two most prevalent signs were eczema and rashes/hives.
From minute zero, Gene had sensitive skin. When the typical newborn shedding and baby acne period had passed, we mentioned to our pediatrician that we were concerned about Gene’s skin. We were told that he had eczema and were given recommendations for how to treat it with home-remedies or store-bought products. These worked some of the time, but ultimately, we had to get a prescription-strength ointment to put on the persistent spots. Food allergies were not mentioned in any of these eczema conversations, even though there is a strong correlation between eczema and food allergies.
RASHES & HIVES
From just a few weeks old, Gene would randomly break out in rashes and hives. Sometimes the hives were teeny tiny. Sometimes they were massive and looked like mosquito bites. Sometimes the rashes would go away after a few minutes. Sometimes they were there for days. We took Gene into the pediatrician for these random outbreaks. It went something like this:
Doctor: What kind of detergent are you using to wash his things? You should be using Dreft.
Me: We use Dreft.
Doctor: I recommend getting a cover for his mattress. It could be dust mites.
Me: He already has an allergy cover on his organic hypoallergenic mattress.
Doctor: I suggest a HEPA machine in his room to filter his air. Go ahead and change the regular ceiling air filters while you’re at it.
Me: We have a HEPA in our room and love it, so we bought one for Gene’s room. We also change the air filters on a regular basis. My husband even writes the date he changes them on the bottom so we know how long it’s been.
The conversation continued with questions about shampoos and body washes, lotions, diaper brands, and so on. We just couldn’t seem to find the culprit. All in all, the doctor chalked it up to an unknown and said that we may likely never know what was causing the outbreaks, but he did say there was a small chance it could be food allergies.
Looking back, the hives, rashes, and eczema diagnosis should have all been red flags waving us towards food allergies, but as first-time parents, food allergies weren’t even on our radar. Thankfully, our pediatrician (who ROCKS) was keeping track for us and these signs were what ultimately led to the recommendation for a food allergy blood test when Gene was six months old.
Six months old! Did you catch that? All of these warning signs happened between zero and six months. The recommended range for peanut introduction is in there, meaning that if we had given Gene peanut butter when we started introducing solids, he would have had an allergic reaction. I literally cannot bring myself to think about where I would be right now (or where Gene would be) if we had given him peanuts products as a baby.
So, if you are a parent of a new baby, listen to advice others give you, but don’t take it at face value. Ask questions and research. When in doubt, take the safest route. If you see warning signs or think food allergies are a possibility, have a blood test performed.
(The pictures you see in this post are all reactions that Gene had from US having allergens on our hands or breath. He never ate, drank, or touched the allergens directly himself.)