When their oldest daughter was born 11 years ago, entrepreneurs Catherine and JJ Jaxon followed the standard medical advice for infants: They didn’t give her peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, or other common food allergens. By the time their daughter was 3, they learned that she was allergic to most nuts.
In 2015, when their youngest baby was born, the advice was starting to change. A major new study showed that introducing peanuts to a baby, and keeping them in the diet for the next five years, could reduce the rate of peanut allergies by as much as 86%. “Basically, what we had been doing as Americans, and in some other countries, was really the worst thing we could possibly do,” JJ Jaxon says. Between 1997 and 2015, the rate of peanut allergies in the U.S. more than quadrupled.
The Jaxons wanted to give their newborn the best chance of avoiding allergies, but they struggled to find food that would work. “Nuts and nut butters are a choking hazard for a baby, so you can’t give them nuts and nut butters in their natural form,” Catherine Jaxon says. “And then the entire baby food industry was allergen-free, because the guidelines had been in place for years. So we were just really frustrated. I remember reading the study and thinking Wow, we have the potential to avoid another food allergy in our family. But why is there no product in the baby food aisle that makes this possible?”