Wednesday, May 2, 2012

When is Honey Safe for your Baby?

A commonly asked question when it comes to foods for infants is about giving babies honey. 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 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. The AAP statement says "Raw or unpasteurized honey (Infants younger than 12 months should avoid all sources of honey)". AAP Pediatric Nutrition Handbook.

There are many who feel that honey is really not a danger to babies because in one form or another, honey has been given to babies well under the age of 12 months old. There are many cultures that continue to give babies honey almost from birth and incorporate it early into baby's diet. We have outlined a few facts about Honey and the possible risk to babies. While we may be overly conservative and caution against giving a baby under 12 months of age honey, we recommend that you thoroughly discuss this with your pediatrician.

Does Honey Contain Botulism?

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 directly settle upon hives for example - and thus the spores themselves could 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. (

Adults can handle a small amount of botulinium spores easier than babies.

In adults, the amount of botulism spores ingested (if any) from honey is really quite negligible because we have mature intestines. 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 1 year or older, their intestines have a balance of acids that help destroy and fight off any toxins that the botulism bacteria produce.

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