Q&A: When Can Babies Eat Honey?

Posted in Starting Solids Q&As and tagged .

Question & Answer

Honey – not only is it natural and delicious, but it also has some pretty fabulous health benefits. Before you let your little Pooh Bear get their paws in the honey pot here are some things you should know.

What’s the problem with honey?

As with many natural products, honey contains bacteria. Not all of this is harmful but honey may also carry spores of a particular kind of bacteria called clostridium botulinum. For most people, this causes no issues at all, but because babies’ immune systems are underdeveloped, they are highly susceptible to this bacterium causing an illness called botulism. Infant botulism is rare, but it definitely does occur, and it may be fatal.

It doesn’t matter what kind of honey you buy, raw or processed, and it can survive the cooking process, so it’s also safest to avoid anything containing honey, like stir-fries or cakes.

My baby ate something with honey in it – now what?!

Don’t panic. Just watch your baby for any symptoms, which will generally show up between 12-36 hours, but can sometimes take up to 14 days. Symptoms usually begin with constipation, but can also include weakness, floppiness, poor feeding, lethargy, irritability or difficulty breathing.

In the rare occurrence that any of these appear, head straight to your local emergency centre and make sure you advise the doctor or nurse that they’ve consumed honey. In most cases, when dealt with quickly, infant botulism is very treatable.

So when can babies safely eat honey?

The highest risk for infant botulism is under six months, although paediatricians recommend that you wait until after twelve months of age to introduce honey. Once children are over one, their immune systems have generally developed enough to render the bacteria harmless.

It’s important to note that in some children who have digestive or immune disorders this may not be the case. If you’re concerned, check with your doctor. In any case, there’s no real rush to introduce honey into your bub’s diet, they’re probably sweet enough already!

Source: Better Health

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