There are many different types of tree nuts, but we have decided to put them all together in today’s post. We have done this because despite varying a little in taste and nutrition they are all a top nine allergen and when it comes to safe preparation it is very similar for each nut.
When we talk about tree nuts, we are covering:
- Brazil nuts
- Cashew nuts
This is not an exhaustive list, but it covers the main nuts we see in supermarkets and that are used regularly in foods.
In general, all nuts offer a lot when it comes to nutrition! They are packed full of protein, fats, fibre and essential vitamins and minerals. Nuts are also super rich in something called phytochemicals, which work as antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to have many health benefits including reducing to risk of many diseases.(1,2) Nuts are also a source of vitamin E, B6, niacin, folate, plant iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and copper to name a few.(3)
Special mentions to the following for being powerhouses of a few special nutrients:
- Almonds-calcium and iron
- Brazil nuts – selenium, magnesium, Vitamin E
- Cashew nuts -iron and zinc
- Pistachios -iron, thiamine and B6
- Hazelnut -Vitamin E, thiamine and iron
Nut butters are also well loved by kid’s and a easy (and nutritious) food to include in their diet. We also know that introducing allergens early and keeping them in your little one’s diet can reduce the likelihood of an allergy developing. So there are many great reasons to get started on tree nut introduction.
All tree nuts are considered to be a top nine allergen. For this reason, it is important to introduce each nut separately to monitor for a reaction. If you need more information on how to do this, then see our post on introducing allergens in our library. Just remember that 90% of babies will not have a food allergy. So although introducing allergens may make you feel a little nervous, it is unlikely that they will have a reaction.
It is recommended that once a top nine allergen is introduced that you keep it in your little one’s diet twice a week to reduce the risk of allergy developing. This can be tricky with so many types of tree nuts! So, once you have introduced several tree nuts you can blend them to make a mixed nut meal to add to cooking or sprinkle on food to keep up regular exposure with ease. You could also make muffins or fritters using a mixed nut meal and freeze them to pull out once a week for easy exposure. If you include flour, eggs and milk in there too then you are covering several allergens in one go (we are all about making life easy here!).
How to serve
Firstly, what to avoid:
- Nut milks- not appropriate as a drink before 12 months. After 12 months it is not recommended as a substitute for dairy or soy milk either, as they are lacking a lot when it comes to nutrition. Nut milks are often inferior compared to cow or soy milk when it comes to protein, fat and calcium. If your child has dietary requirements that mean dairy or soy milk isn’t appropriate for them, then you should consult a paediatric dietitian to assess the most suitable milk alternative for your individual child’s needs.
- Whole nuts and crunchy nut butters until 5, as these are a choking risk.
- Claggy nut butters- you will likely need to spread thinly or thin out with a fluid.
Nuts are a choking hazard and need to be served:
- As a paste/nut butter without chunks. Look for 100% nut butter without added salt or other oils (some brands remove the nut oil and replace with palm oil)
- Thin down with water, milk of choice or in yogurt. Claggy lumps can be a choking hazard as they are hard to move around the mouth and swallow.
- As a meal/flour. You can use ground nuts to roll fruit or veggies in to help your little one grip slippery foods and offer a little added protein while you’re at it.
12 months +
- Continue to offer it as you would before 12 months, but you may not need to thin it out any more
- Still be mindful that large blobs of nut butter may still be a choking risk or difficult for your little one to move around the mouth
- Avoid crunchy nut butters as large pieces of nuts are still a choking risk
5 years +
- It is advisable to wait until 5 years of age to offer whole nuts
- Start by splitting the nut in half
- Practice chewing and reminding them to chew nuts well
- Avoid if not sitting down to eat, as this increases choking risk
- Crunchy nut butter is okay at this age
So here are five great ways to introduce tree nuts in your baby’s diet:
- Nut meals are a great way to help your little one to get a grip of slippery finger foods! Roll some mango or avocado in nut meal.
- Sprinkle into porridge or cereal
- Add into biscuits or a muffin recipe to add some extra protein, fat and iron but also flavour
- Add nut meal into a Bolognese sauce to thicken and boost the flavour
- Mix nut butter into yogurt with some turmeric and lemon juice for a savoury dipping sauce for steamed veggies
- Taylor C. Wallace, Regan L. Bailey, Jeffrey B. Blumberg, Britt Burton-Freeman, C-y. Oliver Chen, Kristi M. Crowe-White, Adam Drewnowski, Shirin Hooshmand, Elizabeth Johnson, Richard Lewis, Robert Murray, Sue A. Shapses & Ding Ding Wang (2020) Fruits, vegetables, and health: A comprehensive narrative, umbrella review of the science and recommendations for enhanced public policy to improve intake, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 60:13, 2174-2211, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2019.1632258
- Ros E. Health benefits of nut consumption. Nutrients. 2010 Jul;2(7):652-682. doi: 10.3390/nu2070652. Epub 2010 Jun 24. PMID: 22254047; PMCID: PMC3257681.
If you're feeling a bit overwhelmed or confused with the Starting Solids thing and wanting some personalised guidance head over and book a one on one consultation with one of our paediatric dietitian's. We can help you put a plan in place that suits your family and your lifestyle to make introducing solids stress free!