Babies and Honey

Although it’s a great natural sweetener and can be a healthy part of a balanced baby diet, babies under one year old should not be given honey. It can pose a serious health risk, so be sure to wait until after your baby’s first birthday to introduce it.

Honey and Infant Botulism

The risk to your child’s health and even life from giving honey under the age of one is a very real one. Honey is known to contain botulism spores, which when swallowed by a grown person will have little to no effect on the body. In a baby however, whose digestive system is still immature, botulism spores can produce a lethal toxin capable of killing within minutes. This incredibly dangerous toxin paralyzes the muscles used for breathing, and it can happen so fast there is barely time to react. Luckily, most cases of infant botulism are much milder and can be caught in time to treat the problem. But for those cases that go undiagnosed or occur very quickly, the results can be tragic. As the signs of the early stages of botulism are often misdiagnosed, it really isn’t worth taking the chance.

Honey is not the only source of botulism, it also appears in dust and dirt – but your baby is far more likely to contract infant botulism from honey than from any other source. No matter what type of honey the risk is still very high, so avoid it entirely throughout the first year of life, until your baby’s digestive system becomes strong enough to prevent the spores from germinating into the toxin. After your baby’s first birthday, you can start to add honey to the menu, either as a sweetener or as a natural treatment for minor ailments.

Most serious cases of infant botulism occur in the first six months of life, but until one year old there is still a risk, so steer clear of it until baby is a full 12 months old.

The Health Benefits of Honey

After a year old, there are a number of uses for honey that can be beneficial to your baby. Research has uncovered amazing attributes that make honey one of the healthiest and most powerful natural substances around. Honey is a powerful antibiotic and also helps to heal wounds and burns.

With the recent recall of all cold and flu medications off pharmacy shelves for kids under 6, honey has become one of the few remedies left to parents looking to treat a cough in a child. A spoonful of honey will soothe the throat and help to suppress a cough. The new research shows that it is a very effective treatment for a cough in children, even more effective than those drugs that are no longer considered safe for children. Once your baby is old enough, this natural treatment will help a little one with a cough get a good night’s rest and feel much better the next day.

As your child grows, honey can be a wonderful and healthy way to include a treat in with a treatment – it tastes great, is all natural, and can help treat everything from yeast infections to the common cold. As long as you wait until the danger of infant botulism has passed, you can use honey for all its natural power and sweetness with your child.

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