Baby’s diet is very important for the proper development and health of the baby. Parents have to make sure to introduce new food at the right time. Honey as a natural product has many benefits for human wellbeing and with no doubt should be a very important part of your child’s diet.
First of all, you have to make sure your baby does not eat honey nor honey based products before the first birthday.
When your baby turns one, then what to do? I had many questions when I wanted to introduce honey to my baby’s diet and I have read plenty. I am sharing all I were able to find on the subject.
When is the Earliest you Can Think About Introducing Honey Into Babies Diet?
One of the biggest concerns, when you have a newborn (especially if it is your first one), is food and how to feed your baby safe and healthy.
In the first few months when babies are only fed with milk this concern is not so big but as soon as you take a step forward and start introducing solids to baby’s diet the thoughts about healthy and safe food will cross your mind and that includes honey.
The first thing you should know about honey when it comes to babies is that you should not give your baby honey before she /he turns one.
It is very important to follow this rule otherwise you risk your baby’s health and there is a chance that your kid gets sick with an illness called infant botulism. FDA also recommends, to avoid giving honey to a child under 12 months old .
Infant Botulism – What is That?
Let me say a few words about botulism and then will share with you what I have found out about infant botulism. Botulism is a rare but serious condition caused by bacteria Clostridium botulinum. (Link will take you to
official FDA website infant botulism )
To be more precise this bacteria makes a toxin that can attack the human body. This toxin usually attacks human nerves causing breathing difficulties, muscle paralysis, or even death.
The bacteria Clostridium botulinum can be found naturally in many places and it is not always dangerous for people’s health even when it is eaten
.But under certain circumstances, the spores produced by bacteria can grow and make a deadly toxin that can seriously harm your health and put your life in danger.
So infant botulism is the same illness, caused by the same bacteria but it is more often as unlike adults, babies digestive system is not capable to handle the spores.(link takes you to an official web page of University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.)
Although the most vulnerable group are babies between 3 weeks and 6 months old but all babies younger than one-year-old are at risk.
Symptoms of Infant Botulism
The first sign of this illness usually occurs from 3 to 30 days after the baby ingested the spores. These are some symptoms that can indicate that your baby is maybe attacked by bacteria Clostridium botulinum
- Constipation ( although can happen in this early age and also can indicate many other less serious conditions, you should call your doctor if your baby hasn’t has a bowel movement in the last 3 days )
- Poor appetite
- Weak cry
- Breathing difficulties
- Muscle weakness
- Poor facial expression
If you notice any sign from the list contact your pediatrician for further consultation
Breastfeeding and Honey
Mums always worry about what they should eat or they shouldn’t while breastfeeding and if the food they consume can harm the babies over milk.
As we are focused here on honey,I have to say that, after I did a research,I found out there is a lack of scientific argument that would demonstrate the side effect of honey using during the breastfeeding period.
Anyhow it is well known that the digestive system of an adult person has the ability to kill germs so it should not be a problem for nursing mum to eat honey, of course, if she does not have any allergies on honey or other bees products.
However, there are some precautions you should follow if you are a nursing mum who likes to eat honey on a regular basis :
- You should always wash your hands before breastfeeding to avoid passing the botulism spores to a baby from your hands
- You should always buy the good quality pasteurized honey and not raw honey which has more possibility to be contaminated with botulism spores
- Always check the expiry date
So mums if you like honey, just go for it, but do not overeat it! Do not forget that honey, no matter how healthy it is, still has calories and sugar so it can affect your waistline.
Is it Safe for Baby to Consume Cooked Honey?
Only very high heat can kill botulism spores and toxin would be destroyed only by boiling that is why It is not safe to give your baby honey in cooked form for example some bread or cake. You should wait until the baby’s first birthday.
According to the guidelines given by The Provincial Health Services Authority ( PHSA ) which was developed to help health professionals who work with infants and children in British Columbia, CA , infants younger then 12 months old should not eat honey, even if it is pasteurized or cooked.
Click here for pediatric nutrition guidelines in pdf format published British Columbia official website (document published with permission from the Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health).
What About Honey Based Products ?
You should definitely avoid any liquid or solid food / products that contain honey until your kid turns 1.
What About other Sweeteners Before First Birthday ?
The parents are advised to avoid any food rich in refined sugar until the baby is 1 year old. If you ask me, you should keep avoiding it after the first birthdays as well.
Refined sugar has 0 nutrition and only make you baby crying for more sweet food. Honey is also not an option for your baby ( until the first birthday ), the same as maple syrup. Ok, what you can use if you want to sweet a little bit your baby’s meal?
If your baby is 8+ months old you can start giving her raisins.
You can add very few raisins to baby’s meal as they are very sweet or you can prepare raisins syrup by soaking the raisins for few hours and then use a food processor for making thick mass which you can store in the fridge for max 3 days and use it in baby’s meals.
A good idea also is to use raw banana powder. You can introduce it into a baby’s diet when a baby turns 6 months. It has high fiber content and that is why is very good for the digestive system, preventing constipation.
Palm sugar is also something that can be introduced to a baby’s diet when a baby turns 6 months. It can be added to porridges and puddings instead of white sugar. It is very rich in minerals and vitamins.
How to Introduce Honey ?
Your baby celebrated his/her first birthday. The big day was a great event for you, your family, and your baby of course. Now, if you are a great fan of honey you could not wait this day so you can introduce honey to your baby’s diet.
It Is safe now but still, there are some rules.
The main rule ( like any food you give your kid for the first time ) is that you should introduce honey to your baby’s diet gradually. You can start with milk which you will sweeten with a quarter of a teaspoon of honey or you can add the same amount to fruit juice ( lemonade ) or tea.
There is also a rule if one of the parents is allergic to honey that you should give 1g of honey per kg of the body weight divided into 2 or 3 doses.
After that, you should pay extra attention in the next few days, and in case of vomiting or skin irritation, you should stop giving the honey to your baby and consult the pediatrician.
If mentioned signs do not occur honey can be given daily, with a gradual increase in dose, to switch to full doses after two weeks.
How is Honey Good for Your Baby?
Honey is very healthy for your baby. Real superfood!
- Eating honey is very useful for your child in case he/she has an upper respiratory infection with a cough and runny nose. Of course, in case of any health issue, you should consult your pediatrician.
- Honey will also help your young child sleeps better if you give him/her one teaspoon of honey before going to bed
- It helps your child’s digestive system. It keeps the digestive system clear of any obstructions and helps with bowel movement.
- It helps with wounds. If your child has some wound /cut, you should clean it and apply a small amount of honey directly on the wound. Honey has great antibacterial and antifungal properties and will help the wound to heal faster.
- Honey stimulates the production of immune cells, therefore, help a child to build a stronger immune system
Honey Allergies in Infants
Some infants and small children can develop allergic reactions to honey.It is very important as I mentioned earlier to introduce honey to your baby’s diet after the first birthday and very gradually in order to avoid any unpleasant and possibly dangerous situation.
Even though many scientific studies have shown that honey allergies are pretty rare, eating honey can cause some allergy symptoms such as the runny nose, watery eyes, rash, hives, etc.
If the honey is rarely the reason for an allergic reaction, whose fault is that your baby got some of the written symptoms?
When bees are making honey, this precious superfood can be contaminated with bee pollen or pollen from some other plants( oak, sunflowers, tulips, willow…).
If your baby is allergic to pollen and eats this ‘contaminated’ honey ( if we know that almost 20% of US population is allergic to some kind of pollen, then allergy caused by pollen would not be a strange thing ) then he /she easily can suffer from some of the allergic symptoms which will be misinterpreted as an allergy to honey.
Anyhow if you notice some of these symptoms after you gave the honey or honey-based products to your baby, you should visit the doctor for further consultation.
Honey Based Meals for Your Baby ( After First Birthday )
I always prefer to make a meal for my baby rather than buy it. The benefits of homemade, healthy porridge are that you know exactly what your toddler eats, you pick your own foods, preferably organic and homemade, and you save some money.
Here are some of my favorite honey-based recipes :
Honey and Banana Porridge
2 teaspoon of honey
1/2 cup of milk
Creamy, sweet, and rich in fibers and vitamins, banana is one of the favorite fruits among children ( and adults too ). Banana is great for the digestive system, preventing constipation in toddlers.
Honey is a powerful antioxidant, a good source of minerals, vitamins, amino acids with great antibacterial properties.
Smash banana add honey and milk and serve very healty and highly nutritious meal to your young one
Honey, Apple and Rice Pudding
2 oven baked apples
2 tablespoon of honey ( you can add cinnamon powder if you like and it is very healthy as well )
1/2 cup of boiled rice
After you baked the apples, peel them and mash into a puree. Mix apple puree with honey and boiled rice. You will get a super breakfast or snack for your toddler.
Honey Oatmeal with Raspberries
1 tablespoon of oatmeal
5 fl oz of water
1 teaspoon of honey
Cook your oatmeal in water. After boiling, cook the porridge for another minute and then cover it and let it rest for at least 5min letting flakes to swell completely.
After that, you can add other ingredients ( honey and raspberries ) mix it well and serve to your baby as a delicious breakfast. If you prefer you can graze the meal with a stick blender or you can put it in a food processor as well.
Honey is a great natural product that is good for humans in many ways just make sure that you or your child are not allergic to it.