Nuts and Children
Nuts and Children
Good nutrition is important for everyone, but particularly for children who have extra nutritional needs for growth and development. Ensuring that your child eats a well balanced diet which provides all of the essential nutrients they need can help them develop healthy habits, now and in the future.
Introducing nuts to your young child
There are a few things to keep in mind when introducing nuts into your child’s diet:
It is often recommended that the introduction of nuts be delayed until 12 months of age to reduce the risk of allergies, but there is currently little evidence to suggest that this helps.
There is some evidence that delaying introduction of foods may actually increase (rather than decrease) the risk of developing an allergy, however, at this stage this is not proven and further research is needed.
The 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend introducing nut butters and pastes from 6 months of age.
Whole nuts should not be given to children until after five years of age due to the risk of choking. Smooth nut pastes or ground nuts added to other foods are a great way to make sure even young children can benefit from a small handful of nuts each day.
When giving children whole nuts (or any other food which could be a choking risk) ensure that they are sitting down to eat and supervise them closely. Encourage them to eat small amounts at a time and to chew their food well.
Nuts allergies in children
Peanut allergy is the most common cause of serious food allergy reactions, affecting as many as one in 50 young children. Tree nut allergies are also growing, but are less common than peanut allergies. Around 20% of children with a peanut/tree nut allergy grow out of their allergy while around 20% worsen; the remainder stay much the same in terms of severity. It’s not possible to predict reliably who might get better or worse over time, but if the allergy persists into teenage or adult life it is very unlikely it will disappear.
Should nuts be banned from schools?
Many schools claim to be “nut free”, however a Nuts for Life commissioned Newspoll survey in 2012 found that 1 in 3 parents / guardians of school aged children (attending schools with nut free policies) reported either accidentally or intentionally sending their children to school with nuts and nut-containing products. No school can guarantee to be nut free and it is unsafe to do so. It may create a false sense of security and as a result student vigilance for checking foods and labels is reduced. Allergy awareness policies are needed in schools where allergic students attend. State Government school allergy policies in general do not recommend nut bans in schools.
Tips for including nuts in your child's diet
- Make up small, snack-size portions of mixed nuts and dried fruits for a nutritious alternative to snack foods
like chips and lollies.
- Nut spreads make a great sandwich filling or a condiment for celery.
- Add walnuts or pecans to homemade cakes and muffins.
- Banana splits are a dessert that most kids enjoy – slice a banana down the middle, top with a scoop of
vanilla ice-cream and sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts.
- Combine home made popcorn with freshly roasted cashews and almonds for a healthy afternoon snack.
- Layer berries, yoghurt and crushed hazelnuts in a parfait glass for a healthy afternoon snack or dessert.
- Mix crushed macadamia or Brazil nuts with fresh breadcrumbs to make home made fish or chicken nuggets.
This information was provided by Nuts For Life. Images and Videos were provided by Nuts For Life.Nuts for Life For further information on nuts and health, refer to www.nutsforlife.com.au or phone 02 8295 2300