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Almonds For Babies: Safety, Right Age, And Benefits

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Almonds are known for their nutty texture and mildly sweet flavor. Sweet almonds have a nutrient-rich profile, thus making its way into baby’s diet. While adding almonds to your infant’s weaning diet in an age-appropriate way can be beneficial, its potential to trigger allergic reactions cannot be undermined.

Read this post to know about the safety of almonds for babies, the nuts’ nutritional value, possible health benefits, and more.

Is It Safe To Give Almonds To Infants?

Yes, almonds, fed in an age-appropriate way, are safe to consume for babies and toddlers. However, do not serve whole almonds to a baby since they might choke on it. Instead, feed almonds to the baby in a paste or powdered form that is easy to swallow.

Almonds can provide nutrients, such as MUFA, fiber, protein, biotin, and vitamin E (1). Besides, the dynamic phytonutrient profile of the nuts offer svarious health benefits, which we will discuss later in the post (2) 

When Can You Start Giving Almonds To Babies?

Babies above six months of age can start consuming almonds in a paste or powdered form,as part of their well-balanced weaning diet (3). Whole almonds or any other whole nuts should not be fed to children below the age of five years (4).

Stay alert towards any sign of allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance while introducing almonds to the baby. If anyone in your family has a history of food allergy or the baby has other food allergies, then consult a pediatrician before introducing almonds (5) 

Nutritional Value Of Almonds

Almonds have considerable amounts of carbohydrate, fat, protein, and essential nutrients that can contribute to your baby’s recommended intake. Below is the approximate nutritional composition of one ounce (28.35g) of unroasted almonds (6) (7) (8) (9).

NameAmountRDA(7-12months)
Energy164Kcal
Protein6g
Total lipid (fat)14.2g
Carbohydrate, by difference6.11g
Fiber, total dietary3.54g
Calcium, Ca76.3mg270mg
Iron, Fe1.05mg10mg
Magnesium, Mg76.5mg60mg
Phosphorus, P136mg275mg (AI)
Potassium, K208mg700mg
Sodium, Na0.284mg200mg
Zinc, Zn0.885mg3mg
Copper, Cu0.292mg0.6-0.7mg
Selenium, Se1.16µg15µg
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)7.27mg4mg

 Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, World Health Organization, and Oregon State University

*AI = Adequate intake 

Along with continued breastfeeding up to at least 12 months, adding almonds to your baby’s diet in moderate amounts can enhance the overall diet’s nutritional value.

Possible Health Benefits Of Almonds For Babies

Almond intake,as part of a weaning diet,can provide the following health benefits to a baby. 

  1. Supply energy:Infants and toddlers need energy for growth, development, and activity (10). One ounce of almonds provides 164 Kcal of energy that can significantly contribute to an infant’s energy needs. Besides, it could give some protein necessary for growth and sustenance.
  2. Support gut health: Research studies indicate that apart from maintaining healthy bowels, the dietary fiber from almonds also has prebiotic effects associated with an array of health benefits, such as enhanced gut health (11) (12).
  3. May boost brain health:Almonds are widely considered a brain power-boosting food due to the presence of vitamin E. Research indicates that the vitamins from almond may protect the brain from oxidative damage in the long run (13).
  4. May develop and strengthen bones: Almonds contain a significant amount of potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus that can potentially contribute to bone development and strengthening (14) (15).
  5. Mayenhance immunity and overall health: Almonds contain several essential micronutrients and bio active phytochemicals, like polyphenols. The secompounds may improve immunity and overall health through their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, hypocholesterolemic, and insulin-sensitivity enhancing effects, in the long run (11) (16) (17).

Possible Side Effects Of Almonds For Babies

Almonds are generally safe to consume.However, just like any other food, they do have their share of potential side effects.

  1. Gastric disturbances: Excessive consumption of almonds can cause the ingestion of high amounts of dietary fat and fiber. These may result in gastric disturbances, like indigestion, diarrhea, or stomachache in some babies.
  2. Allergic reactions: Some babies can be allergic to almonds on contact or consumption. Babies allergic to birch pollen can display cross-reactivity with almonds (18) (19). Check for allergy signs, such as hives, swelling of the mouth, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, etc. Discontinue feeding almonds or any product that may contain almonds and consult a doctor promptly.

Babies under 12 months of age should not consume almond milk. If your baby is older than 12 months, and is allergic or intolerant to cow’s milk, then consult a pediatrician before considering almond milk as a staple alternative.

Tips To Select And Store Almonds

Follow these simple tips to select and store almonds.

How to select almonds

Almonds are available in two forms.

  • Shelled almonds are only the nuts with the hard, wooden shell removed.
  • Unshelled almonds have the hard, wooden shell intact. You need to break the shell to get the nut inside.

Shelled almonds (without outer shell)

  • Prefer sealed almonds to the ones sold in bulk bins.
  • Check the packaging date to purchase fresh produce.
  • If buying almonds from a bulk bin, take them from a reputable store.
  • Choose almonds that are uniform in size and brown in color.
  • Avoid almonds with pits, cracks, spots, and stains.
  • Avoid almonds with a sharp, bitter odor that indicates rancidity.
  • If buying pre-roasted almonds, prefer dry-roasted almonds without added sugar or salt to oil-roasted ones.
  • Speak to the store attendant to know about the bulk bin almonds’ date of procurement and whether they have any other added ingredients.

Unshelled almonds (with the outer shell)

  • Choose unshelled almonds that do not make much rattling sound when shaken. Too much rattling sound indicates that the almond is shrunken or aged.
  • Check the shell carefully and ensure that they are uniform in size and do not have any cracks, stains, or holes. 

How to store almonds

  1. Store unshelled almonds sealed in a bin or container in a cool, dark place away from heat, moisture, and air.
  2. For shelled and packed almonds, read the storage instructions given on the pack. Most manufacturers recommend:
    • Consumption within one month of opening the package.
    • The product stays sealed for freshness unless opened for use.
    • Refrigerate unsealed packages for longer shelf-life.  

How To Include Almonds In Your Baby’s Diet?

The following are the various ways to include almonds in a baby’s or toddler’s solid food diet.Try to give blanched (soaked and peeled) almonds.

  1. Blanched almonds can be turned into a fine almond paste or powder without any pieces or lumps in it.
  2. Introduce no more than half a teaspoon of paste or powder. You can add it to the baby’s cereals, porridges, and purees.
  3. Check for signs and symptoms of allergy/sensitivity. Follow a three-day wait rule and introduce no new food within the stipulated time.
  4. After the baby gets adjusted to almonds, gradually increase the amount to one teaspoon.
  5. For older babies and toddlers, serve almond paste or powder as part of pancakes, smoothies, and other food items.
  6. You can use almond flour in your baking recipes, such as cake and muffins, for a toddler.
  7. For toddlers, mix coarsely ground almonds to soups, salads, sandwiches, and rolls.You may use almond oil as a salad dressing or use almond milk for shakes and smoothies.

Quick And Healthy Almond Recipes For Babies And Toddlers

Here are some easy-to-prepare and delectable almond recipes that you can try for your baby and toddler.

1. Almond and apple puree

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The delicious mix of almond paste and apple puree is suitable for babies above six months.

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup homemade apple puree (fresh)
  • 1 cup almond (soaked and peeled)

How to:

  1. Put the almonds in a thick bottom food processor or blender and blend to make a fine paste. Ensure no lumps or small chunks are left.
  2. Mix half-teaspoon of almond paste to apple puree and serve.
  3. Store the remaining paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator for no more than three to four days.

2. Almond milk

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The alternative to dairy is suitable for toddlers.

You will need:

  • 1 cup raw almonds (soaked overnight or two days)
  • 2 cups water

How to:

  1. Drain and rinse the soaked almonds under cool running water.
  2. Put them in a blender/food processor, add water, and blend continuously for two to three minutes or until the almonds blend into opaque white water.
  3. Place a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth over a bowl and pour the almond milk over it.
  4. Hold the cloth or strainer firmly and press out the fine almond meal thoroughly, and squeeze out the milk.
  5. If you wish to add sweetener, opt for brown sugar, and serve right away.

3. Almond smoothie

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The mouth-watering and nutritious recipe is suitable for babies aged eight months and older.

You will need:

  • ½ cup almonds (soaked and peeled)
  • 1 cup banana (chopped)
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (unsweetened)
  • 1 cup water

How to:

  1. Blend all the ingredients until you get a smoothie with flowy consistency.
  2. If needed, add water to adjust its consistency and serve immediately.
  3. For older babies and toddlers, add seeds and nuts powder, and serve topped with chopped fresh fruits.

4. Oats and almonds porridge

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A healthy breakfast recipe for babies older than 12 months.

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 banana (pureed)
  • 1tsp almonds powder
  • 1tsp almond pieces (thinly sliced)
  • 1tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1tsp brown sugar (optional)

How to:

  1. Put a thick-bottom pan over a low flame, heat the milk, and add banana puree, almond powder, and cinnamon powder.
  2. After 40 seconds, add the oats with constant stirring, and cook for over two minutes.
  3. As milk thickens and oats look cooked, switch off the flame, and let the porridge cool.
  4. Transfer some porridge to a serving bowl, garnish with grated almonds, and serve while still warm.
  5. You can top the porridge with brown sugar and some thinly sliced fruits.

Almonds are nutrient-dense and can be a healthy addition to your baby’s regular diet. You can make almonds a part of several baby food recipes but add it in moderate amounts. Start with a small quantity to make sure there are no side effects.

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