|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Honey and Infants

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Henry Bernstein, M.D.

Q: Why is it that honey isn't safe for infants?

A: You are correct--honey is not safe for infants! Although it is sweet tasting, honey should never be given to infants less than a year of age because it may cause a rare type of food poisoning (infant botulism). Honey may contain the spores of a bacteria germ that can cause infant botulism. These spores can also be found in soil, water, and even household dust. Honey should never be added to food, water, or formula that you are going to give to an infant. Even the honey in some processed foods or just dipping a baby's pacifier in honey can cause this problem.

A bacteria germ that produces a substance in the body (called a toxin) causes infant botulism. This toxin affects the place where the ends of nerves and muscles meet. This results in significant floppiness and weakness in the infant. After an infant eats the spores of this bacteria, the disease usually presents within hours to one week of the exposure. The disease starts as constipation, followed quickly by floppiness and weakness with a weak cry, poor feeding, and weakness of facial muscles. It frequently causes the infant to have an unusual breathing pattern (apnea), which often requires putting infants on a ventilator to help them breathe. Identifying the toxin in the stool makes the diagnosis. This nerve damage can last weeks to months.

Although infant botulism is very rare as perfect conditions that allow the bacteria germ to produce this toxin are necessary, it is still wise to never give honey to an infant.

More on: Expert Advice

Henry Bernstein, M.D., is currently the associate chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and director of Primary Care at Children's Hospital, Boston. He also has an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Healthy Smile Checklist for Kids
Have better dental check-ups with this free printable checklist that helps keep your child flossing, brushing, and smiling! Brought to you by Philips Sonicare.

Kindergarten Readiness App
It's kindergarten registration time! Use this interactive kindergarten readiness checklist, complete with fun games and activities, to practice the essential skills your child needs for this next big step. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

8 Easter Egg Decorating Ideas
Need some fun ideas for decorating Easter eggs with the kids? Look no further for colorful and cool designs!

7 Ways to Curb Kids' Exposure to Violence
American children are exposed to violence more often than you might think. Learn how to limit your child's exposure to violence and manage the mental health and behavioral effects it can cause.