Can Babies Have Honey? Dos and Don’ts: All you need to know


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When can I introduce honey to my baby?

You don’t have to be Pooh bear to love honey! While honey is a natural sweetener and a quick fix for your sweet tooth. You may be wondering when can babies have honey?

While grabbing your honey pot as we delve into the sweetness of honey. And learn when to let your toddler have this divine bounty!

When Can Babies have honey?

As your baby grows, you are excited to introduce various types of textures and foods in your baby’s diet. Especially once you are weaning your baby off breast milk.

Honey seems like a pretty good idea to add to your baby’s diet plan. As it is a natural ingredient, easily available and is mild in taste.

However, you may want to wait till your baby’s first birthday before introducing those tiny taste buds to the pleasure of honey! And this includes all types of honey- mass produced, local honey, raw and unpasteurized honey, processed honey as well as that bottle of honey you love to grab from your local supermarket.

And the list doesn’t stop here. It also includes honey-flavored sweeteners and all baked goodies that contain honey.

Why Halt Honey?

So, can babies have honey? Yes, after they turn one year old. But why wait for 12 whole months before exposing your baby to a seemingly harmless food item?

Yeah it does seem a stretch but honey poses a significant risk for the tiny tummy when taken before the right time! The same is the case for other liquid sweeteners like corn syrup or molasses.

While introducing any sugary ingredient into your tots’ diet, you may want to consult with your doctor.

Honey and Infant Botulism!

Can babies have honey before they cross the 12-month milestone? No. And while you may be tempted to give a teeny bit of honey, you should stop right there.

That is because honey, in any form can cause Botulism. Now, what is this fancy term?

Botulism is a dangerous condition caused by Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium whose spores contaminate the soil, as well as honey and honey products. These spores turn into bacteria in the gut. But the problem doesn’t stop here.

The bacteria produce a harmful neurotoxin. Which causes respiratory paralysis. That means your baby may need mechanical ventilation in order to breathe properly!

Although the mortality rate with Botulism is less than 2 percent. Around 70 percent of babies with Botulism may need ventilator support for at least one month!

How to Detect Infant Botulism?

As Botulism causes trouble with breathing, it is a serious problem. And something to vigilantly look out for. Infant Botulism presents with the following symptoms

  • Problems with feeding
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Constipation
  • An irritable baby with a weak cry
  • Trouble breathing
  • Seizures in a few cases

These symptoms normally appear within 12 to 36 hours of consuming honey. However, in some babies, it may even take around 14 days for the first sign of botulism to manifest.

The symptoms of infant botulism resemble those of other conditions. Such as infection of the meninges or even sepsis. So, while visiting your doctor, you may want to tell about use of honey.

This would make it easier for your doctor to reach a diagnosis. And thus, provide the best treatment as appropriate.

Can babies have honey And Best Way to Introduce Honey?

Honey is the simplest way to curb those sugar cravings. So, when can babies have honey as their guilty pleasures?

After they turn a year old, you can incorporate honey into their diet. As with any new experiment, you may want to take it slowly. One common approach is the 4-day wait. You give a small amount of honey to your toddler and then wait 4 days (in case there is any allergy or reaction).

Then once that is clear, you can add honey to a new food item.

Honey Cheerios or Honey Spreads?

Honey is a very versatile and easy to use ingredient. It can be consumed in tons of ways. Whether it’s just spreading it on a slice of bread, or a seasoning for your sesamebarbecue chicken wings or those oh-so favorite Honey Cheerios.

Honey can be taken any way you want. But when it comes for that baby tummy, you can use simpler recipes.

Like mixing honey in their milk or smoothies, replacing it for maple syrup on pancakes or adding it in oatmeal or their favorite yogurt.

How to know when can babies have honey?

If your child hasn’t celebrated their first birthday, you shouldn’t be rushing for honey. But that doesn’t mean that your baby can’t have any sweet meat!

Alternatives to the use of honey include sugar, obviously! But it’s always better to take it slow. As too much sweet and confectionery ultimately poses a problem in the long run. Including dental cavities.

Agave nectar is another alternate to honey as it does not cause infant botulism. Maple syrup is a good option too, and can be easily substituted in recipes in place of honey.

Benefits of Honey

Honey is a natural sweetener. And what’s better to curb the sweet cravings with something natural and organic. In this case, it is necessary that you prefer organic and raw honey. As the processed versions often have added sweeteners and sugar.

Honey is also a good remedy for cough and a sore throat. So, can babies have honey with a bad throat? Absolutely!

It’s also a good source of energy, as it’s mostly carbohydrates. And the nutritional benefits shouldn’t be ignored. Honey is packed with enzymes, amino acids, minerals and antioxidants. It also has moderate amounts of vitamins B and C.

It also has proven benefits when it comes to wound healing. But topical application of honey should only be used for a child older than 12 months. As botulism can also occur through broken skin on which honey is applied if the baby isn’t a year old.

The Takeaway

In response to the question, “Can babies have honey?”.  Yes, they can. But only babies older than 12 months. As infant botulism, though rare, can be a serious problem to handle. And it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

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