It's exciting to introduce your baby to new tastes or offer him your favorite foods to see how he likes them. Despite this, some foods aren't safe for babies and you'll have to wait to tempt their palates until they get older. Honey is one such food. Most pediatricians recommend holding off on giving your little one honey in any form until he's old enough to safely digest it.
Risks of Honey
Honey often contains Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which might not affect older children and adults, but can make infants very sick because their digestive systems are immature and not fully developed. The bacteria in honey can cause botulism in babies, a type of food poisoning with serious implications for young children. It can result in nerve damage, weakness and paralysis, according to HealthyChildren.org, produced by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Most cases of infant botulism occur in babies under 6 months of age. While honey isn't the only offender of the condition, it is one that is easily avoidable. The AAP recommends waiting until after your baby reaches his first birthday to let him sample honey for the first time. Baking foods might make the honey safe to eat, but it is probably safer to avoid anything that includes honey as an ingredient until your little one is a year old.
Because the AAP cautions parents to avoid feeding their baby honey until 12 months of age, it's also important to avoid foods baked with honey. It takes a very high temperature to kill botulism spores, so baking honey-sweetened foods at home might not render them safe for your little one. Don't serve your baby muffins, breads, cakes, cookies or homemade cereal bars with honey as an ingredient. Some commercial products may be cooked at high enough temperatures or make honey safe, but your best bet it is still to wait until your baby is 1 year old to let him have honey.
If you've mistakenly given your baby honey, it's important to know the signs of botulism so you can get your little one medical help right away in case he gets sick. The first sign of the condition is constipation. Your baby may become weaker and cry less forcefully, as well as slowing down on his feeding schedule and losing facial expression, according to HealthyChildren.org. If you notice any of these symptoms, take him to the emergency room right away for prompt treatment. Be sure to let the doctor know your baby may have ingested honey, even if it came from a baked food you thought was safe.
- HealthyChildren.org: Botulism
- Wholesome Baby Food: Why Babies Should Not Eat Honey - When is Honey Safe for your Baby?
- Mayo Clinic: How Can I Protect My Baby From Infant Botulism?
- The University of Wisconsin: Food Safety for Infants : Honey Can Have an Unsuspected Sting
- Dr. Greene: Honey and Infant Botulism
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