Honey and Your Baby - Is It Safe

Margaret Meade

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"What's wrong with using honey for my baby?". This is yet another one of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to foods for infants. Honey should never be given to a child under the age of 12 months old.

In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that honey should not be added to the food, water, or formula that is fed to infants younger than 12 months of age. This technically, applies even to honey in baked or processed food goods. Honey may contain botulism spores which can lead to botulism poisoning. There are some areas of the country (United States) where the possible contamination of honey with botulism spores is higher due to the soil! Soil contains botulism spores/bacteria and the flora that bees use to feed on grows in that soil.

Also, disturbed soil containing the spores may be directly inhaled or settle upon hives for example - and thus the spores themselves are inhaled/contaminate the honey as well. Honey is mostly consumed in raw form and is typically not pasteurized, sterilized or radiated. Even pasteurized honey can contain botulism spores and should be not be given to children under the age of 12 months. (http://www.eatwelleatsafe.ca/pathogens/botulism.htm )

In adults, the amount of botulism spores ingested (if any) from honey is really quite negligible. The intestines of an adult contain enough acids to counteract the production of toxins the botulism bacteria produce. Once an infant reaches the age of 1yr or older, their intestines have a balance of acids that help destroy and fight off any toxins that the botulism bacteria produce.

Honey is technically not safe for infants even in cooked form such as in baked foods like breads! Botulism spores will NOT be destroyed during and under household cooking methods and temperatures! The botulism spores can only be killed by the high heat which can be obtained in a pressure canner. The toxin (that is produced in anaerobic conditions) can only be destroyed by boiling (OSU Botulism FAQs).

Corn syrup, and even molasses, may also contain these spores; these items are typically NOT processed and pasteurized either. If someone recommends corn syrup to alleviate constipation, try another method! While the incidences of botulism poisoning in infants via contaminated honey is very very rare and you should use your own judgment and comfort level when making the decision to introduce honey to your baby's diet. Don't be afraid to ask your pediatrician about the use of Honey either, that is what he/she is there for!

Resources & Learning More:

WebMD - Honey and the Nursing Mom

CDC Preventing Botulism

SueBee Honey FAQs

Dr.Greene and Infant Botulism

Margaret Meade is the Editor of http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com and is the mother of 3 boys. The boys were raised on all Homemade Baby Food; and since Mommy had been studying nutrition for many years, she knew homemade was best! Visit wholesomebabyfood and find out how easy it is to make your own baby food. Once you begin, good healthy eating habits will automatically flow!


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