Editor’s note: This post is not intended as medical advice. Always consult a medical professional or physician before treatment of any kind.
While most of us may know him as the dreamy heartthrob Rafael on The CW show Jane the Virgin (#TeamRafael forever!), Justin Baldoni considers himself first and foremost a devoted husband and dad of two.
Since becoming a father in 2015 to daughter Maiya (who he describes as “2½ going on 30”) and again with 5-month-old Maxwell, Baldoni says he’s grown pretty conscious of how his actions not only impact his own life, but his entire family, too.
“Being a father makes you even more reflective on everything in life, but most specifically, my actions,” Baldoni tells Babble. “Something I realized was the choices I make today are going to be their memories tomorrow.”
And one of those choices, Baldoni says, was recently introducing Maxwell to peanuts at just 5 months old — something he and his wife Emily did carefully and consciously, in the hopes of preventing a future peanut allergy.
While that might sound a bit early to some parents, a Learning Early About Peanut Allergies (LEAP) study found that introducing peanuts to a baby as young as 4-6 months could actually reduce their risk of developing a peanut allergy by 86 percent. After coming across the study and consulting his pediatrician, Baldoni says he “jumped on board” immediately.
Part of what sparked Baldoni’s interest is the fact that he’s been surrounded by the effects of food allergies his entire life — his sister dealt with health issues prompted by food allergies during childhood, and the young actor who plays Mateo on Jane the Virgin has a severe peanut allergy himself.
After witnessing several “close-calls” first-hand, Baldoni and his wife decided to take an extra step to help prevent a peanut allergy with their own children.
“I think as a parent, you want to do everything you can to protect your children and to give them the best shot at a healthy and happy and comfortable life,” he says. “And if we can eliminate some of the things that are dangerous for him, then we’re doing our job as parents.”
Baldoni says he and Emily first introduced Maxwell to peanuts by mixing peanut powder with Emily’s breast milk and then spoon-feeding it to him. And as it turns out, Maxwell “loves it” and showed no sign of a negative reaction!
The actor has now partnered with the National Peanut Board to share his story and support the study, but is still sure to point out that he is “not an expert by any means”, and encourages other parents to do their own research on the subject first.
“I don’t think, as a parent, you should ever do something just because somebody else does it or because somebody else says it’s safe,” the actor shares. “I think you have to investigate for yourself and if it’s right, it’s right.”
As for parents who are understandably hesitant about introducing peanuts early, Baldoni says he totally gets it.
“Yeah, hell yeah, of course it’s probably scary,” he says, “and I understand.”
But he also offers this advice: “I think any time you have a fear or you’re concerned about something, then the best thing you can do is arm yourself with information, and there’s no better information than approved scientific data and studies. And that’s where we went first.”
There is one matter he can’t seem to solve with data alone, though: Going gray over chasing around two kids!
Since becoming a family of four after the birth of Maxwell, Baldoni says things have certainly gotten busier around the house.
“The difference is less time, more gray hairs, and less sleep, and less time with your significant other — all of which we’re working on,” he says. “Except the gray hair thing, which I can’t really work on.”
Psssh, we think this dad of two is looking pretty good — gray hairs and all!
Editor’s note: While the Baldonis chose peanuts as a first food in consultation with their doctor, the ACAAI recommends that peanuts be introduced after other solid foods. Parents should consult with their doctors about any concerns they have about food allergies. For more information about peanut allergies and prevention, visit preventpeanutallergies.org.