When can babies be introduced to almond?
Almonds, if they are finely ground or offered in the form of a smooth nut butter (and then thinned with breast milk, formula, yogurt, or water to reduce the choking risk) may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Almonds are a common allergen, so take care when introducing them and check out our age-appropriate preparation suggestions.
Background and origins of almond
The almond may be one of the world’s most popular nuts, but botanically speaking, it is a seed. Like the pits of cherries, peaches, and plums, almonds are found at the center of a fruit that grows on a tree native to the southwest Asia. The young fruits are known as green almonds, with soft edible flesh—just like its stone fruit cousins—that is celebrated as a seasonal treat in some cultures. However, most of the world’s almonds are cultivated for their seed and are farmed in the United States, where they are classified as a tree nut for regulatory purposes. There are bitter and sweet varieties of almonds; the sweet ones are safe to eat, and because bitter almonds can be poisonous, they are typically processed and used in small amounts to make extracts, liqueurs, oils, and other products.
★Tip: Store almonds in a cool, dark place, like your pantry or fridge. If you live in a warm, humid environment, it’s especially ideal to keep almonds in the fridge to avoid spoiling.
Are almonds healthy for babies?
Yes. Almonds are an excellent source of fiber, plant-based protein, and heart-healthy fats. They also offer lots of vitamins and minerals to help your baby thrive, including calcium for strong bones, zinc for healthy growth, vitamin E for antioxidant support, and iron to help move oxygen through the body. Research has shown that our bodies absorb more nutrients from almonds that have been partially processed, such as almond butter and almond flour.1
The United States requires all almonds sold in North America to be pasteurized to offset the risk of Salmonella, a harmful bacteria which has been found in almonds in recent years.2 3 Suppliers meet the pasteurization mandate through different methods: blanching, roasting, steaming, or treating the almonds with a chemical called propylene oxide, or PPO, which is a known carcinogen.4 5 PPO is banned in many parts of the world, but not in the United States. If you’d like to avoid the chemical, buy organic almonds from the United States.
★Tip: Almond skins are full of antioxidants! Purchase skin-on almonds, almond butter, and almond meal for an added boost of nutrition in your baby’s meal.
Can babies drink almond milk?
No. Prior to 12 months (at which point a baby is now a toddler), the only liquids an infant should receive are breast milk, formula, and if the baby is older than 6 months of age, water in small amounts (less than 2-4 oz a day) in an open cup.6 7
If after the first birthday, you’d like to introduce almond milk to your child, it’s fine to do so but know that almond milk lacks adequate calories, fat, and protein we like to see in a plant-based milk for children (fortified soy or pea milk are more nutritious).8 See our Milk FAQs to learn more.
Are almonds and almond butter common choking hazards?
Yes. Whole nuts, nut pieces, and globs of nut butters are considered choking hazards for babies and young children.9 To reduce the risk, finely grind almonds into a fine flour and sprinkle on other foods or purchase smooth almond butter and mix into applesauce, yogurt, or thin with breastmilk, formula, or water. Almond flour and almond butter can also be added to baked goods such as pancakes, waffles, and muffins. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment, stay within an arm’s reach of your baby during meals, and check out our age-appropriate serving suggestions.
Are almonds a common allergen?
Yes. Almonds are considered to be tree nuts, and all tree nuts are common food allergens. While only 1% of the American population is allergic to tree nuts, it is usually life-long: only 9% of children with tree nut allergy will outgrow it on their own.10 11
Although an allergy to one tree nut increases risk of allergy to another, keep in mind that being allergic to one nut does not necessarily mean that all nuts need to be removed from the diet. Having as diverse of a diet as possible, even within the confines of food allergies, is important for nutrition.
There is no recommendation to have allergy testing before introducing tree nuts into the diet, even if there is a family history of food allergy. However, if you suspect your baby may be allergic to nuts, make an appointment with your primary care clinician or a pediatric allergist. Your allergist can help you determine if almonds can be safely introduced. When it’s time to introduce the nut, offer a small quantity (such as ¼ of a teaspoon of thinned nut butter or finely ground nut) for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals. It is okay if your baby does not consume each serving entirely. It is important to maintain common food allergens (such as tree nuts) in the diet regularly (twice weekly, if possible) once introduced. Don’t stop offering the nut unless your baby shows signs of a reaction.
How do you prepare almonds for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience. Your child is an individual and may have needs or considerations beyond generally accepted practices. In determining the recommendations for size and shape of foods, we use the best available scientific information regarding gross, fine, and oral motor development to minimize choking risk. The preparation suggestions we offer are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for child-specific, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional or provider. It is impossible to fully eliminate all risk of a baby or child choking on any liquid, puree, or food. We advise you to follow all safety protocols we suggest to create a safe eating environment and to make educated choices for your child regarding their specific needs. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 12 months old: Purchase smooth almond butter and mix into applesauce, yogurt, or thin with breastmilk, formula, or water or finely grind almonds into a fine flour and sprinkle on other foods that it will stick well to (avocado, banana, etc.). Consider adding almond butter or almond flour to your batter when making pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc. Refrain from serving nut butter on toast as both bread and nut butters can increase the risk of choking.
12 to 24 months old: Continue mixing smooth almond butter into yogurt, warm cereals, or baked goods, and sprinkling ground almond on other dishes and foods or mixing it into batter when preparing baked goods. At this age, your baby may be ready to try nut butter on toast. Make sure the butter is thinly spread and that you offer milk or water in an open cup to help wash down any sticky pieces of food. While technically at this age you may also introduce almond milk as an occasional drink, there are more nutritious plant-based milks to choose from. Read more in our Milk FAQs.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Recipe: Almond Yogurt with Banana Spears
Yield: 1 child size serving
- ¾ cup unsweetened, full-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon smooth almond butter (or ¼ teaspoon if almond has not been introduced yet)
- 1 banana
- Mix the Greek yogurt and almond butter in your baby’s bowl.
- Split the banana into thirds vertically (video here) and stick them into the yogurt so they stand up. (Doing so makes it easy for young babies to grab them.)
Place the bowl in front of your child along with a baby spoon. To encourage self-feeding, pre-load the spoon and either hand it in the air or rest it on the edge of the bowl for your baby to grab.
This recipe contains common allergens: dairy and almond. Only serve to your child after these each allergen has been introduced safely.
The nutty and sweet flavor of almond pairs well with apricot, asparagus, banana, blueberry, blackberry, butternut squash, cantaloupe, chicken, coconut, dates, honeydew melon, orange, plum, pomegranate, prune, sardine, trout, and seasonings such as cardamom, cinnamon, orange blossom, rosemary, rose, and saffron.
J. Truppi, MSN, CNS
V. Kalami, MNSP, RD
K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT
S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. (allergy section)
R. Ruiz, MD Board-Certified General Pediatrician and Pediatric Gastroenterologist
- Grundy, M.M., Lapsley, K., Ellis, P.R. (2016). A review of the impact of processing on nutrient bioaccessibility and digestion of almonds. International journal of food science & technology, 51(9), 1937–1946. DOI:10.1111/ijfs.13192. Retrieved November 17, 2020
- Salmonella Enteritidis PT30 Outbreak Investigation Working Group (2005). An international outbreak of salmonellosis associated with raw almonds contaminated with a rare phage type of Salmonella enteritidis. Journal of food protection, 68(1), 191–198. DOI:10.4315/0362-028x-68.1.191. Retrieved November 17, 2020
- United States Department of Agriculture. (2020). Amendment 1: Commodity Specification for Shelled Tree Nut. Retrieved November 17, 2020
- California Almonds. Pasteurization Program. Retrieved November 17, 2020
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (1989). Carcinogenic Effects of Exposure to Propylene Oxide. DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 89-111, Current Intelligence Bulletin 51. Retrieved November 17, 2020
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Infant Food and Feeding. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
- UNICEF. Guide to Bottle Feeding. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
- Verduci, E., D’Elios, S., Cerrato, L., Comberiati, P., Calvani, M., et al. (2019). Cow’s Milk Substitutes for Children: Nutritional Aspects of Milk from Different Mammalian Species, Special Formula and Plant-Based Beverages. Nutrients, 11(8), 1739
- HealthyChildren.org. (2019). Choking Prevention. Retrieved November 17, 2020
- American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Everything You Need to Know about Tree Nut Allergy. Retrieved November 17, 2020
- Food Allergy Research & Education. Tree Nut Allergy. Retrieved March 22, 2020