Sure, honey’s touted as being one of the best foods with health benefits around, but what about honey for babies?
It hasmore functional nutritious properties than sugar and can help with sore throats, coughs, and colds, but you might be wondering when can babies have honey?
Don’t worry, mama, we’ve got all you need to know about when it’s a safe age to eat honey.
In this article 📝
- When can baby have honey?
- Why can’t babies have honey?
- Benefits of honey for babies
- What honey can babies eat?
- How to introduce honey to baby
When can baby have honey?
This includes raw honey, processed or pasteurized honey, and foods containing honey.
This means that the minimum age for honey is 1 year old.
If you’re wondering about honey for babies under 2 years, that’s certainly allowed, as long as they’re not under 12 months.
Why can’t babies have honey?
There are two main risks to consider when introducing honey to babies – one major and one minor but worthy of keeping on your periphery.
Let’s dive into more detail:
Risk of infant botulism
Infant botulism is the main reason why infants can’t have honey.
Botulism is a form of food poisoning caused by a specific type of bacteria (botulinum) that can grow on some preserved foods, like honey.
The chance of botulism is the main reason why babies can’t eat honey and why it’s one of their top forbidden baby foods.
Babies under six months are more likely to get botulism, and, sadly, have the highest risk of hospitalization from botulism.
Some common symptoms of infant botulism include:
- Extreme tiredness
- Lack of appetite
- Blank facial expression
- Seizures (in very few cases)
- Breathing difficulties
But some of these symptoms may not show until anywhere from 12 hours to 14 days of getting the botulinum bacteria.
But don’t fret, because botulism is still very rare, with only around 110 cases found in the US each year.
It’s not just honey and honey-based products that carry a risk of botulism (albeit low).
If baby eats any of these, they could also be at risk:
- Soil (they’ll try to eat anything!)
- Corn syrup
- Improperly canned foods
If you’re unsure about introducing a new food to your baby, check with your doctor first.
Honey allergy in babies
It’s incredibly rare, but about 0.001% of people in the US have a honey allergy.
A honey allergy in babies and toddlers can also be an indicator of an allergy to bees and bee stings, so, after 12 months, if you decide to introduce honey to your toddler, keep an eye on their reactions.
Allergies can include symptoms like:
My baby ate honey, what do I do next?
If baby ate honey before 12 months, the first thing to do is not panic.
The chances of honey allergy in babies are very slim, as is the likelihood of infant botulism.
But keep an eye on baby, and look out for any of the botulism or allergy symptoms we’ve listed above.
If they’re showing any of those symptoms within 14 days of eating honey, see your doctor.
Benefits of honey for babies
So, after all that, is honey good for kids?
Honey for babies over 12 months should be totally fine.
In fact, there are a few benefits of honey for babies and potentially favorable side effects of honey in toddlers that might sweeten the deal:
1. Nutritious and delicious!
Honey does have a lot of sugar and is high in calorie density, so we don’t want them eating it by the spoonful.
But most varieties of honey also have a decent nutritional value, with lots of vitamins and minerals, including:
- Vitamin B1: For a healthy nervous system, brain, muscles, and digestive system.
- Vitamin B2: To help break down energy from foods.
- Vitamin B3: For healthy brain function.
- Vitamin B5: To build healthy blood cells.
- Vitamin B6: For energy distribution and to improve mood.
- Vitamin C: For strengthening the immune system and helping the growth and development of body tissues.
- Potassium: To help with water retention and regulate nerve signals.
- Calcium: For strong bones and teeth.
- Copper: For healthy nerve cells and strong bones.
- Magnesium: To help regulate blood sugar levels and maintain healthy muscles and nerves.
- Zinc: For a healthy immune system and help with healing.
- Iron: To help keep a consistent body temperature and maintain energy levels.
- Enzymes: To aid with digestion.
2. Helps with tickly throats
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if baby has a quiet cough, honey can provide some relief ‒ as long as they’re over 12 months old.
Honey can also help with nighttime coughs, as this 2012 study shows.
Honey has also been proven to have antimicrobial (anti-bacterial) properties, as well as acting as an effective anti-inflammatory.
So, if your toddler has a small burn or cut, smearing a little honey could be just as effective as popping on a band-aid.
4. Healthy(ish) sweetener
As we mentioned before, honey does have a high calorie content, but it’s also sweeter than typical sugars (cane sugar, refined sugar, brown sugar, and sweeteners).
This means you can use less of it for the same taste of sweetness.
Toddlers and children don’t need to eat as many calories as the average adult, so a sweet option with fewer calories can be a great addition to their diet.
What honey can babies eat?
There are a lot of different types of honey.
As in over 300 different types.
But from all the main varieties of honey, which types of honey can babies and toddlers eat?
- Raw honey: One of the more nutrient-rich types of honey. Raw honey for toddlers is safe, as long as they are over 12 months. Raw honey for kids can actually be nutritionally beneficial (when kept in moderation).
- Manuka honey: It’s known for its anti-inflammatory properties but manuka honey tends to be on the pricier end of the honey scale.
- Acacia honey: Made from the nectar of the false acacia tree, acacia is a more floral-tasting honey that’s also safe for babies over one to eat.
- Clover honey: Toddlers and young children can enjoy this light honey.
- Pasteurized honey: The most common type of honey, processed (or pasteurized) honey is safe for babies over one.
- Cooked honey: Can babies have cooked honey? Unfortunately not. Cooked honey, for babies, doesn’t reduce the risk of infant botulism, so it’s best to leave it off your chosen baby foods until baby’s 12 months old.
- Honey-based products: Honey-nut cereals and honey-roasted ham are also to be avoided for the first year of baby’s life, as they pose the same risks.
How to introduce honey to baby
When it comes to introducing honey to baby’s diet or giving honey to toddlers, a little-by-little approach is best.
Start by adding honey to a few different foods that could do with a touch of sweetness, then wait for baby’s reaction.
Using honey as a sweetener is great for things like plain yogurt, which is naturally a little bit tart.
By using just a little bit of honey, you can control the added sugar content and still make it taste delicious.
And it will still come in at a way lower added sugar total than many store bought options.”
It can take a few days for allergic reactions, so it’s best to give them some to try, then wait about four days before adding honey again.
If they do have a reaction, like those listed above, then contact your doctor immediately.
Is raw honey safe for a one or 2 year old?
Yes, from 12 months on, your infant can eat raw honey, as long as you’re keeping an eye on them while they’re trying it, and up to 14 days afterward ‒ just in case.
And there you have it, everything you need to know about honey for babies and toddlers.
Any top tips for introducing honey to your child’s diet?
Share them with the other mamas on Peanut.