Since 2008, there have been many changes to the rules about when infants can eat certain foods. You may be surprised to learn that the American Association of Pediatric Societies (AAP) has reclassified many foods that used to be unsuitable for infants until they were old enough to start eating solid foods.
However, this is not the case with honey or products made from honey.
Honey for babies after one year of age
The advice on when babies can have honey continues beyond the first year of life. This includes unprocessed honey and foods cooked or baked with honey. The American Academy of Pediatrics Handbook of Pediatric Nutrition states that “all sources of honey should be avoided for infants under 12 months of age. “1. This statement makes it very clear that any food containing honey should be prohibited, including honey cereal.
Why honey is not safe for infants
The reason for postponing honey harvesting is not because of concerns about food allergies or the risk of choking, but rather a serious illness called infant botulism. Infant botulism is caused by an infant ingesting spores of a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum
This bacterium produces a toxin in the infant’s digestive tract that can be absorbed by the infant’s body and has serious effects on the infant’s muscle control. In extreme cases, the respiratory muscles may become paralyzed, which is rare. Without mechanical help, the infant may die. Signs and symptoms of infant botulism include:
Bland facial expressions
Lethargy or weak sucking when eating
Difficulty swallowing or excessive drooling
Why honey is considered safe after one year of age
Perhaps you are wondering why honey is not safe for infants under one year of age, but is good for others. The answer lies in the maturity of the infant’s digestive tract.3. The acid strength of the infant’s digestive system is not strong enough to withstand the toxins produced by bacteria. Therefore, while adults and children can handle small amounts of radiation, infants cannot.
Honey Baked Goods
Baked goods made with honey are also off-limits. Even high temperature cooking and baking will not destroy the botulism spores.3. Therefore, you should not give your baby baked goods or cooked foods containing honey either.
The Argument Against Waiting a Year
However, there are certainly those who would argue that these guidelines are too cautious. They may point to the fact that other cultures outside the United States regularly introduce honey to infants. In addition, they might point out that the risk of botulism from honey exposure in infants is very low.
In the United States, fewer than 200 cases are reported each year, and most infants recover completely after treatment.4. If you are considering feeding honey to your baby before he or she is one year old, be sure to talk to your pediatrician and get their advice.
However, statistics do tell us that caution may be prudent. Prior to the introduction of guidelines to prevent infant botulism, 395 cases of infant botulism were reported to the Centers for Disease Control from 1976 to 1983. To recover, most infants required hospitalization, and unfortunately 11 died.