Honey for Infants - Is it Safe?
CAUTION: Do not feed raw honey to Children under 1 year old.
As parents, we strive to ensure that our children are raised in a safe and healthy environment. We take care to select safe baby cribs, car seats and strollers. We spend time and money baby-proofing our homes. We research the best products from gentle detergents to baby monitors. And many parents also seek out organic foods and natural products to feed their children. While raw honey is certainly all natural, it must never be fed to children under 1 year old. This article explains why honey for infants can be dangerous.
why can't babies have honey?
Bacteria are everywhere in our environment. Some bacteria form a protective coating known as a spore, which help the bacteria to survive. These spores can be found naturally in many places, including soil and dust. One type of bacteria (clostridium botulinum) can be particularly dangerous. Botulism spores do not cause people to be sick, even when ingested. But under certain conditions, botulism spores can grow and release a dangerous toxin. When this happens, it can lead to botulism - a rare but serious illness.
By their first birthday, a child's immune system has sufficiently matured and developed to handle threats such as botulism. But until then, infant botulism is a potentially serious illness. Infant botulism occurs most often in babies under 6 months old. Symptoms of infant botulism include overall weakness, floppiness in the extremities, slow eating, a reduced gag reflex, loss of facial expression and constipation. You should seek IMMEDIATE medical attention if your child exhibits any of these symptoms.
Can I eat honey while pregnant?
Healthy adults are not at signifiant risk of botulism from raw honey, even during pregnancy. Honey is also safe for the baby you are carrying. Even in rare cases when pregnant women contracted botulism, researchers found no evidence that their babies were born with the illness, or had any problems during birth.
For something to harm an infant in utero, it must enter through the placenta. Scientifically speaking, the botulinum toxin has a high molecular weight, making it very unlikely to pass through the placenta walls. Still, if you have any questions or concerns about eating honey while pregnant, talk to your doctor.
should i consume honey while breastfeeding?
Honey is safe to eat while breastfeeding. Botulism spores are easily broken down and eliminated by healthy adults and these spores are too large to make it into breast milk. Mothers who are breastfeeding can safely eat raw honey as long as they are careful to prevent any direct contact between honey and their infant.
If you do eat honey, be sure to sanitize your hands to make sure none of the sticky stuff remains on your skin. And if you use any skin care products that contain honey, be sure that none of these products are transferred to your breasts and chest area.
what if my baby accidentally eats some raw honey?
If you accidentally give some honey to your baby, it is important to remain calm. Infant botulism is very rare. In the United States, there are about 110 cases of botulism per year, and around 70% of these cases are infant botulism. Of these cases, about 25% are linked to food consumption. Watch closely for any allergic reaction and monitor your baby for signs of infant botulism. Call your pediatrician and let them know what happened. Your pediatrician can provide further advice on symptoms to watch for, and then let you know the appropriate course of action if any of these symptoms appear.
How to introduce honey to young children
Once your child is over 1 year old, how should you introduce them to honey? Try mixing it into oatmeal or cream of wheat, stir some into a bowl of yogurt and fresh fruit, or use it in place of syrup on waffles or pancakes. But remember that while honey is a great alternative to refined sugars, it is still a calorie dense sweetener. Honey should be used in moderation for children with young teeth and growing bodies. Also be on the lookout for food allergies. Introduce honey to your child slowly and monitor for signs of any allergic reaction. Allergic reactions to honey are often linked to pollen allergies so your child may react to certain honey varieties, but not others.
how much honey should my child eat?
The following recommendations may provide you with some guidance on how much honey children can eat in a day. As always, be sure to check with your pediatrician if you have any specific questions or concerns.
|Under 1 year||Do not feed them ANY honey|
|1 to 2 years||About 2 teaspoons per day|
|3 to 6 years||About 2.5 teaspoons per day|
|Over 6 years||About 3 teaspoons per day|
what are some benefits of honey for young children?
Honey is a wonderful gift from nature, and a superfood as well. Honey is packed with important nutrients and vitamins need for growing bodies. It also contains essential amino acids that help with brain and body development. With natural sugars such as fructose, honey does not spike blood sugar like white sugar does, and it provides more even and longer lasting energy.
Honey has also be used as a natural cough suppressant for hundreds of years. Honey can calm and soothe sore and irritated throats. Clinical studies have shown that giving children 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey before bedtime can reduce coughing and improve sleep even better than over-the-counter cough medicines.
If you do like honey and your children are old enough to eat it, then be sure to buy raw and unfiltered honey from a trusted source such as Smiley Honey. Raw and unfiltered honey is more than just a sweetener. It is a very healthy and functional food that promotes better health and wellness.