While honey may seem like a natural and wholesome food choice to give your little one, in fact it could be extremely dangerous. This article looks at when you can give your baby honey in their diet and why it should be avoided.
Why Can I Not Give My Baby Honey?
Honey may possibly contain the spores of a nasty bacteria called clostridium botulinum which can be potentially very harmful to babies. Because a small baby has an undeveloped digestive system, this bacteria is able to germinate and may result in infant botulism. Although this is a very rare medical condition, it can potentially be fatal and so it is a risk that should never be taken with an infant's health.
Generally, once a baby has reached a year of age, their digestive system is considered to be developed enough to handle the clostridium botulinum bacteria thanks to the microorganisms that grow in the intestines. These can prevent the bacteria from germinating and growing, causing illness.
How To Avoid Giving Your Baby Honey
To ensure that your little one is not exposed to honey, ensure that it has not been used in the preparation of any foods that you intend to give to your little one. This includes use in cooking, such as in puddings and desserts as a natural sweetener. Although the clostridium botulinum toxin is sensitive to heat, it may not be killed during the cooking process and so to be absolutely certain of your baby's safety, you should avoid using any honey in any recipes that you will feed to your child. If you are going to give your baby a commercially produced food that contains honey such as a ready prepared breakfast cereal, you can rest assured that they are safe to give your baby as they will have been heated to a high enough temperature during the commercial preparation process to ensure that any bacteria spores have been killed.
Other sweeteners such as dark and light corn syrup have been tested and been found to be free of this harmful bacteria, however any parent in doubt should discuss the issue with their doctor.
Cases of infant botulism are extremely rare so there is no need to panic. You should however keep a close eye on your baby for any signs of botulism such as weakness of the muscles, problems with sucking, lethargy or excessive crying. If you spot any of these symptoms consult your physician immediately.