God Bless Bamba

Peanut allergies in Israel are extremely rare. Why?

Dr. Jerome Groopman, in his New Yorker article “The Peanut Puzzle” hypothesizes that the reason for the near absence of peanut allergies here might be that Bamba (peanut puffs) are the most common baby food in Israel.

Bamba is so popular with babies here, that a popular Bamba commercial featured a young child saying “Eema, Abba, Bamba!”

In fact, at my 6-month visit to the Tipat Chalav baby clinic, when I asked the nurse with 30 years of experience what should be the first solid food I give my daughter, she looked at me like I was a bit dense, and said, “Bamba! Of course!”

What’s weird is that American pediatricians say that babies should not be given peanuts until they are a year old, since they think that feeding babies peanut products CAUSES allergies.

What do you think, Jewish mom? At what age do you give your babies foods containing peanuts?

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14 comments

  1. i read the article ( i still have the magazine saved to prove to friends that bamba is a good thing!) , and i was really happy with the findings- sometimes exposure is a better protector that avoiding possible allergenic triggers….unless of course there is a serious problem like the little girl in the article. my son’s first word was bamba, and i have nothing against it!

  2. I planned on waiting a year to give my daughter bamba, but then I saw that the kids ate bamba on fridays in her maon for kabalat shabat 😉 For my son, I don’t even remember 😉

  3. eretz yisrael is Hashem’s gift to the jews, so the land is blessed and everything there is good for the jews. ergo, Bamba is good for the jews. (hahahaha!)
    i knew that eretz yisrael was blessed when i first visted in 1976 and saw that israelis put chocolate spread on bread. it was considered a nutritious meal. chocolate spread? WOW! what a great country!

  4. Having seen a summary of the study done in the UK/Israel published a few months ago, I felt ‘cavalier’ enough to let my 10 month-old try some Bamba (which he absolutely LOVED). Unfortunately he proceeded to develop head-to-toe hives within about 15 minutes 🙁 So now we have to carry Benadryl and an Epi pen around with us. I’m hopeful that since it wasn’t a severe reaction, he’ll outgrow it as he gets older. Bamba really is such a convenient nutrition-packed snack – we miss it!

  5. I’ve been telling parents this for years! (I’m a pediatrician)

    Give primarily boiled foods, and low-roast Valencia peanut butter and low-roast nut butters to avoid allergies. I haven’t read Dr. Groopman’s article yet (although I’m sure fabulous, as always) but assume he cites the Israeli study on peanut allergies from a few years ago, suggesting the same thing…. (It just so happened that my VERY fussy-eater, not gaining weight child did very well on nut butters. We just didn’t tell his pediatrician!)

  6. If we didn’t have a peanut allergy in our family, I would probably give our baby Bamba. I heard somewhere that the peanuts most common in Israel are a different variety than those most common in the US, and that could cause the difference in allergies. I don’t know if that’s true, though.

  7. I never had any food allergies in my family. I was eating bamba and shared it with my daughter when she was 1. She broke out and got hives all over and now we’re welcomed into the world of food allergies. What do you think – give my other kids bamba when they’re babies??? Is this bad reaction not common??

  8. Daniella

    Bamba is GREAT. It contains only five ingredients–corn, peanuts, oil, salt and added vitamins and minerals. It’s easy to eat and is enriched with iron. It is a staple of my formerly-solid-refusing 10-month-old’s diet…

  9. In England they tell you not only not to give peanuts to children under 3 or maybe 5, but not even to eat them when you are pregnant or nursing if there is a history of allergies. Peanut butter is almost my favourite food, but with my first baby, although I ate it while I was pregnant, I didn’t while i was feeding, and i didn’t give it to her till she was quite big. With the next couple, i didn’t even eat it when i was pregnant, but by the last ones, i gave up – no-one has food allergies in our family, and our baby swiped my toast and peanut butter once he started eating solids. But I certainly wouldn’t give Bamba to a baby – it’s got salt in it for a start!

  10. Yael Maizels

    I loved that article, as a biologist some of it makes a lot of sense, like the face that denatured proteins (proteins that are “broken”) due to cooking or baking, might be a less allergenic form.

  11. The American Academy of Pediatrics actually released a statement in 2008 saying that waiting until 1 year to introduce nuts shows no decrease in the amount of allergies. A year or so ago there was an article in Parents magazine about this, including a recipe for apple-walnut puree for babies 6 months and up.

  12. I remember with my first child the carer casually mentioned that she allowed bamba and that I should test if my baby had a peanut allergy: I hadn’t heard of this and when she told me it could be deadly and that I should give him bamba for the first time near a doctor I was petrified!!!! It took ages to gather up the courage ( even without a family history) but I actually parked outside the doctors office one day and slowly fed my baby bamba….. Phew.

  13. HI Ladies,

    So… I personally agree with the American pediatric board.
    For this reason, you have a baby that is 6 months old and you are unaware of what s/he is or is not allergic too, why not start with foods that are know to have a low allergic reaction. if bamba is known to cause allergic reactions then postpon it for a while, not for ever. I think that if you child may be allergic to the peanuts then the medications to give to your baby may be dangerous or the amount of time you have before you resolve the babies allergic reaction may take tooo long and may be fatel so they prevent parents from doing this since as the child gets alder s/he only gets strong and the body can help hold it off for a longer time..

    here are other treats to try to keep your little one happy and busy, cherrios, pretzels(choking hazard) tea cookies,

    I wish you luck on this journey and just because you give your baby BAMBA it doesnt mean your wrong or right, but Dr. in the states truly do there research and israel follows there guidelines as well. I am sure that the lady is aware but might not agree with the research since she was raised up on it or raised her children on it. keep that in mind. just beacuse a research is done and someone works in that feild it does not mean they agree with all the researcher.

    I do not agree with the vaccine schedule and not all Dr.s agree with it either but most do, and so do nurses… but you will always fine 1 and another who does not.

  14. I read an article in Israeli paper not so long ago that encouraged introducing Bamba and other such foods, in SMALL AMOUNTS at the beginning, starting at age 6 MOS. This was supposed to prevent developing allergies later….
    On the other hand, I have also read that some theorize that peanut allergy is so widespread in the USA, more so than anywhere else in the whole wide world, bec of the chemicals used in processing there. This may have changed in recent years, bec peanut butter was always such a standard school sandwich and we never ever used to hear of any allergic reactions!Even here in Israel, peanute allergies are rare but a high percentage of those who do suffer are American olim. So what does that tell you?

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