When can my baby eat honey?

Honey is definitely one of the best natural food ever. It’s 100% organic, has tons of health benefits, an unbeatable heavenly flavor and it’s not extremely expensive or difficult to find.

Still…the 1# rule you will receive from your pediatrician is “not to feed your baby any honey before 12 months of age. Infants cannot eat honey or anything that contains honey”. It’s not a recommendation, it’s a rule. Period.

But WHY?

The reason is called “Clostridium Botulinum”, a bacterium that in the worse scenario can cause infant’s death.

Honey might contain the spores of the Clostridium Botulinum bacterium. ANY honey, in ANY part of the world, in ANY form (even cooked in food as the spores aren’t destroyed always by heat). So it doesn’t matter if it’s raw, unfiltered, organic, local…every kind of honey MIGHT contain the Botulinum bacterium. And the MIGHT is enough risk to avoid giving honey to a baby younger than 12 months.

If a baby eats some honey with the Botulinum, the spores can colonize the large intestine producing a botulinum toxin that might end in a botulism infection.

The infection is bad, very bad and can degenerate in death. 

The symptoms usually begins 12/36 hours after you give the honey and are usually:

  • Difficulty swallowing or talking (even baby talk)
  • Dry mouth
  • Facial weakness on both sides of the face
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Trouble breathing
  • Nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps
  • Paralysis

If you notice any of these symptoms contact immediately your pediatrician.

So, avoiding giving honey to babies under 12 months is not a recommendation or a personal choice, it’s a strict rule. Serious, statistically and medically documented.

But what happens between 12 months and 13 months that makes the same dangerous fatal food into a pleasure and recommended food? 

Your baby’s digestive system keeps growing and developing and at around 12 months of age the good bacterias are enough to prevent the botulinum spores to colonize the digestive tract.

Just imagine your baby’s digestive system like a castle with an army. The older your baby gets, the stronger and bigger the army gets, capable of defending itself from the bad enemies aka bad bacterias.

It can really sound incredible, but your baby’s worse enemy can really transform into your baby’s best friend in a matter of few months.

Why best friend?

  1. Has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. Honey can act as a natural and safe cough suppressant and sore throat remedy. Some studies show that it is even more effective than cough medicine.
  2. Has antiallergenic properties. Local honey helps with allergies. Eating local honey can act like a localized vaccination against those things in the environment that are triggering your allergies. Try to get honey that has been collected near your home so that the same flowers and weeds will have been utilized in its production.
  3. Contains a great number of antioxidants. Boosts the immune system.
  4. Being antibacterial, helps healing wounds, cuts and burns nourishing the surrounding tissue.
  5. Is a great substitute for refined sugars. Honey is a sugar, but simply less bad than the refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup. Honey includes an array of vitamins and nutrients in small doses that other sugars simply don’t have.

One recommendation when cooking with honey. Do not cook it as you will destroy many of the nutrients with the heat. I do not use honey for baking. To sweeten my fruit purees I add it at the end, when the puree is cooled down or I drizzle it on top of my final recipes. 

I’m a big big fan of honey, local one and I really recommend it for your kids and family but, as discussed, not for infants under 12 months.

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