Honey is a sweet fluid made by bees using the nectar of flowering plants. While it contains mostly sugar, it also carries a wide variety of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, iron, zinc, and antioxidants. For young babies, honey is dangerous.
When to introduce honey to children
You should wait until after your baby’s first birthday before introducing honey so as to avoid a serious gastrointestinal condition known as infant botulism, which is caused by a toxin from Clostridium botulinum —a bacteria that can contaminate honey.
Honey and infant botulism
Clostridium botulinum is harmful to babies under 1 year old but is not as harmful to older kids and adults. This is why you should only introduce honey to Your Child’s meals after their first birthday. The signs and symptoms of babies with infant botulism include the following:
- Breathing problems
- A weak cry
- Trouble swallowing with a lot of drooling
- Weak muscles in the arms, legs, and neck
- Weak facial muscles that make their face look flat
- Constipation (often the first signs parents notice)
If your baby has any of these symptoms and has recently consumed honey, consult their doctor immediately.
The benefits of honey
Honey contains lots of sugar, so even if there are some health benefits, it should be consumed in moderation. Depending on the type of honey, it can contain modest amounts of B vitamins and vitamin C, as well as enzymes, amino acids, minerals, and antioxidants.
Raw honey and other types
Raw honey is honey that hasn’t been filtered or processed in any way, it comes directly from the beehive and contains all the natural vitamins, minerals, and other healthy compounds. Although they are more expensive, it is widely accepted that raw honey provides more benefits than other types of honey. However, raw honey isn’t medically recommended for children, because they are not disinfected.
How to introduce honey to children
To introduce honey to your more-than-1-year-old child, start by adding a bit of it to their favorite foods. A good practice is to follow the ‘four-day wait’ method. That is, you give Your Child honey and then wait for four days before adding it to another new food. If you see any reaction, contact your pediatrician.
Here are some tips on how to add honey to your baby’s food:
- Mix honey into yogurt
- Squeeze a little honey into a homemade smoothie
- Spread a small amount on toast or pancake
- Mix honey into oatmeal
Always remember that like anything sweet or salty, it should always be consumed in moderation.
Dr. Piyawut Kreetapirom, MD. (22 July 2021)