Bamba Peanut Puffs: What Parents Need to Know
Learn everything you need to know about Bamba Peanut Puffs and its role in early allergen introduction studies!
Many parents consider offering Bamba to their babies especially now that the new USDA 2020 Dietary Guidelines (DGA) recommend to “introduce infants to allergenic foods.” In this article, you’ll learn about using Bamba for early peanut introduction:
What is early introduction?
- Introducing peanut, egg, and milk as early as 4-6 months of age
- Continuing to feed baby these foods multiple times a week, for several months
One way of introducing peanut that many parents have heard about is a peanut puff snack called Bamba. But what exactly is Bamba, and is it a good choice for introducing peanut to your baby? Here’s everything you need to know before feeding your baby Bamba.
What is Bamba? The Origin Story
Bamba is a peanut puff snack, made in Israel from peanuts, corn, palm oil and salt. It’s easily Israel’s most popular snack, and it has become a staple in Israeli culture.
When people see Bamba on store shelves, they usually notice the baby on the bag first. Osem, the company that makes Bamba, claims that it chose the name because it sounds like baby talk. It’s said that the marketers at Osem were hoping to make Bamba one of baby’s first words in Hebrew, right after they learned to say ima (mom) and aba (dad).
But Bamba wasn’t actually designed for babies and young children.
Bamba was first introduced in Israel in 1964. The first version of the snack was a cheese puff, but that version wasn’t very successful. One year later, Osem started making four other flavors of Bamba, including the now-famous peanut version. Only the peanut version survived past 1965.
Around 1967, Bamba peanut puffs started becoming a popular snack with Israeli soldiers. The soldiers loved Bamba so much that, once they returned home, they brought bags of Bamba home to their families. Thanks to this, Bamba’s popularity in Israel skyrocketed, especially among Israeli families with children.
Bamba: Dr. Gideon Lack, and Early Allergen Introduction
The 2008 Peanut Allergy Study
In 2008, Dr. Gideon Lack ran a study that examined rates of peanut allergies in Jewish schoolchildren living in Israel and the UK. He also studied how early sets of infants in each of these countries were introduced to peanut, as well as how much peanut these infants ate per month.
He found that the Israeli schoolchildren were 10 times less likely to have a peanut allergy than the children in the UK. He also found that the Israeli babies started eating peanut much earlier, much more often, and in much larger amounts than the babies in the UK.
This was mainly because Bamba is a staple snack in Israel, from a very young age. Many Israeli parents start feeding their babies Bamba soon after they start solids, and give it to their children regularly.
The LEAP Study (2015)
These findings inspired later research on introducing peanut early. Dr. Lack spearheaded the LEAP study (results released in 2015). In the LEAP study, more than 600 children between 4 and 11 months of age at high risk for peanut allergy either consumed peanut at least 3 times per week or avoided peanut until age 5.
In this study, the families who were asked to feed their baby peanut used either Bamba or smooth peanut butter to introduce babies to peanut early and often.
New AAP guidelines for introducing peanut to babies are based on the LEAP study.
What Parents Need to Know About Bamba
Even though it has indirectly inspired landmark food allergy research, Bamba isn’t the only choice for introducing peanut to your baby.
Bamba is not a healthy food for baby.
Bamba is more than one-thirds fat (by grams). And since palm oil is the third ingredient, it contains saturated fat. It contains only around 50% peanut---the rest of Bamba is corn, palm oil, salt.
Notably, palm oil production is often devastating for the environment. Many palm oil producers destroy large areas of tropical rainforest for their oil plantations. This deforestation releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and threatens the habitats of many endangered plants and animals.
Bamba was not designed for babies. Instead, it’s a snack food that provides too many unhealthy calories.
Bamba also contains salt, which does not meet recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Breastmilk already provides the exact daily amount of salt that babies need, and baby formulas contain similar amounts of salt. In light of this, the CDC recommends against giving your baby any foods that contain salt: "There is no need to add salt or sugar to your child’s food."
"There is no need to add salt or sugar to your child’s food." - CDC
Bamba is a finger food, only for babies eating solids
Bamba is a finger food, so it only works if your baby's well-accustomed to solids. It doesn't work well in the prime window for introducing peanuts to babies.
New guidance from leading medical organizations including the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) recommend: "peanut and egg should be introduced around 6 months of life." During this critical window of time, introducing babies to allergy-causing foods helps them build up a tolerance. However, many babies are not ready for solid foods at this early age.
One option is to soften Bamba with breastmilk or formula. Still, though, many families who choose Bamba will struggle to introduce their baby to peanut as early as 4-6 months of age if their baby is not developmentally ready for solids at that age.
Bamba only contains one allergen --- peanut.
Bamba only contains one common food allergen --- peanut. Peanuts are only responsible for only 22% of childhood food allergies.
Bamba does not contain egg or cow's milk, the other two most common childhood food allergens. Cow's milk allergies are even more common in young children than peanut allergies, and egg allergies are about as common as peanut allergies. Together, milk, egg, and peanut are responsible for 80% of childhood food allergies.
Milk and egg allergies can have the greatest impact on a child's quality of life, because milk and eggs are ingredients in so many meals, snacks, and desserts that kids typically enjoy.
Preparing Bamba requires frustrating guesswork.
You'll have to calculate and measure out the right amounts of Bamba to match the peanut dosage used in the landmark studies.
This process is time-consuming and frustrating. Because of all the added ingredients in Bamba (like corn, palm oil and salt), one gram of Bamba doesn't equal one gram of peanut.
And you'll need to prepare enough correct Bamba doses multiple times per week, over several months, to follow the approach used in the LEAP study.
In addition, it's best to start with a lower dose of an allergy-causing food, and then gradually increase the amount you give to your baby. Doctors recommend this as the safest and most effective approach. What if you give a baby too little --- or too much --- peanut all at once when measuring out Bamba?
Also, Bamba only contains peanut. If you want to cover the other two most common childhood food allergens, you'll have to prepare egg and cow's milk snacks as well. This will take even more guesswork and time.
Bamba might seem cheaper than other options, but it is costly in other ways.
On average, based on prices in June 2020, a 3.5 oz bag of Bamba costs $2.21. Each 3.5 oz bag contains 14 full daily servings of Bamba for baby (plus some extra).
Given all this, to sustain peanut exposure for 6 months (180 days), you’d have to buy 13 bags of Bamba. This will cost you $28.73 for 6 months, on average. That might seem less expensive than other options, but the price is misleading.
You’d also need to buy egg and milk snacks on top of the Bamba, since Bamba only contains peanut. And as mentioned above, you’d also have to spend valuable time measuring out the right doses of all three types of snacks. Plus, with the fat and salt in Bamba, you might build unhealthy eating habits for your baby. So, the overall cost of Bamba is higher than you might expect.
Meanwhile, Ready, Set, Food! packets contain only peanut, egg, and milk (no salt, palm oil, or other additives), and all three allergens are pre-measured to match the amounts used in the landmark clinical studies. Plus, you can start as early as 4 months, consistent with clinical guidelines, even if your baby is not ready for solids.
Looking for a healthier, easier-to-use way to introduce allergens, that's recommended by 1,000+ pediatricians and allergists? Learn how Ready, Set, Food! works for every family, even if your baby is not yet ready for solids.
All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your infant has severe eczema, check with your infant’s healthcare provider before feeding foods containing ground peanuts.