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Is Honey Good For Infants?

Submitted by Sharon Hopkins on February 15, 2011

Why no honey for infants?

Honey is extremely nutritious and is often recommended for adolescents, adults, and even seniors. However, honey is not recommended for infants and babies. Many health experts and pediatricians are often asked “Is honey good for infants?” and the answer to that is “No”. It is important to realize that infants below the age of one have immune systems that are gradually developing and using honey for infants or babies is not a good idea, as it could lead to infections or several other adverse conditions in the baby.

Previously, parents used to dip babies’ pacifiers in honey, before giving it to their children, just to keep them quiet. The sweet taste of the honey usually worked wonders in keeping the baby quiet for a while. However, this practice has been stopped for a while now, as people are becoming aware of the dangers of using honey for babies.

Studies indicate that in spite of the fact that honey is a natural and healthy food, it cannot support any bacterial life. However, what honey can support are C. Botulinum spores, which could lead to the condition of botulism in the baby.

Botulism can be simply described as a form of food poisoning in babies, which is quite rare. The immune system of a child who is below the age of one year is not strong enough to fight this benign strain. This leads to some serious harm to the susceptible and under-developed immune systems in the child.

At times botulism in infants and toddlers could also be fatal. Therefore, using foods, products, recipes or even remedies that contain honey for babies, may not be a good idea. Even the manufacturers of baby foods in the United States are not supposed to include honey in any products that can be given to children, who are below the age of one.

A baby suffering from botulism is quite likely to start displaying symptoms anywhere between 8 and 36 hours, after the consumption of honey. In case a baby happens to consume some amount of honey, it is best to inform a doctor and watch him or her carefully, for at least the next 36 hours or more. If symptoms like a lack of appetite, constipation and listlessness are observed after the consumption of honey, then it is important to visit a doctor immediately. Other symptoms of an infection include lethargy, a weak cry, an expressionless face, droopy eyelids, excessive drooling, swallowing difficulties and breathing trouble.

Another point to be considered is that giving infants honey on a regular basis can damage the teeth that are still emerging. There are some parents who add honey for babies in cereal or other foods, just to add some sweetness to the recipe. However, this is quite likely to encourage a sweet tooth, which is also not a good habit. Therefore, babies who are below the age of 1 year should never be fed honey in any form. By the time children cross the age of one year, their immune systems are strong enough to resist the strain of botulism.

It is best to check with a doctor, before using any form of honey for babies. Even though children above the age of one are not really at a risk of botulism should only be given honey, after getting an approval from a doctor.

Enough care and lot of fussing goes in feeding a food to an infant. This care requires to be taken since the infant’s immune system is still in formative stages and they cannot fight diseases as well as grown children and adults can do.

Honey has been advised for many people, it is sweet not just in taste but also in its qualities, it is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, which are normally difficult to get in normal foods. Therefore honey should be included in food regularly, either during breakfast or a snack.

However, honey in spite of its good qualities has been found not so good for infants below the age of 1 year. The reason being, while honey has nutrition, it also has Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which can cause a type of food poisoning in the infant. This food poisoning is known as botulism.

Adults and older children have the capacity to fight the above mentioned bacteria easily, however, this is not so in infants. Infants might get affected with bacteria, this type of food poisoning can result into death if left untreated for sometime.

There are some symptoms through which identification of botulism in an infant becomes possible, these are, infants go through constant constipation, infants are not active, their hands, legs and neck are floppy due to weakness. The infant cannot cry in its normal tone, the tone of crying also weakens due to botulism, the ability to feed becomes poor and the infant becomes lethargic.

All those foods like under cooked food, maple syrup, corn syrup, etc. which can contain botulism spores should be avoided for the infant. So that he is not contacted with botulism which can create a threat for his life.

However, there are scientists who claim that honey does not cause botulism and that the relationship between honey and botulism requires to be studied in detail again. There are suggestions that the advice to stop honey to infants below 1 year should be reevaluated and that not honey but something else might be causing botulism in infants other than the honey.

Though until it has been proven that honey is absolutely safe for infants, it would be better to exercise care at the time of administering doses of honey to the infant. It would be better if you avoid this sweet for your sweetheart till the age of 1.

Constipation in infants

Constipation in infants is not there within the first few weeks of life as more often than not they are breast fed and breast fed babies seldom suffer with constipation. During this period of early life the infant could have several soft motions in a day. Some babies even have a motion every time they are fed.  Infants who are on formula feeds have a tendency to be constipated and may not pass motion at all on certain days. This is not normal as an infant should have at least two to three motions per day even if they are bottle fed.  As they grow older the bowel movement stabilizes and the baby will have just one motion per day.

When a child is constipated the motion will be hard and like pellets. The child will also cry while trying to pass motion and struggle because it is difficult and painful to pass.  A motion every alternate day is fine but not longer than that. Watch to see whether your child is straining while passing motion and you will know whether he or she is constipated.  Every infant does strain but if the motion is passed then the baby is fine. Kids show their discomfort and will cry when they want to pass motion and cannot because of constipation. Most often the child is scared to pass motion especially when they know that it is painful and may restrain itself from having one at all.

There are many reasons why kids get constipated ranging from being in an unfamiliar place when they feel like having a motion to the wrong kind of diet. In rear cases constipation could be because of an abnormal anus, abnormalities in the spinal cord or lack of proper nutrition. It is best to see a pediatrician and let him diagnose the cause and give you the remedy.

When kids are in a period of transition from breast feeding to bottle feed and then to solids they usually experience constipation. Children also experience constipation while they agreeing toilet trained and using a toilet for the first few times. The mother should show patience and hug and cuddle the child while seating it on the toilet seat and encourage the child to spend time there and “enjoy” it. Read to the kid or sing to it and it will enjoy sitting on the seat until it is ready to have a motion.

Honey infants

Honey may be a delicious food and often medicines are mixed with honey to feed to a child if it is bitter, but children under the age of one year should not be given honey as it can cause food poisoning in them. Most labels on honey bottles which are sold commercially do mention that honey should not be administered to small children but the reason is not specified and the mothers get confused. Even desserts and baked foods with honey should not be given to infants. Children are known to have got infant botulism with honey which can even be the cause of death.

Honey babies

Honey does not suit babies as their digestive system is not matured completely and they are vulnerable to botulism poisoning from honey. Though honey may not always contain spores which are responsible for this kind of food poisoning it does have botulinim which is also not suitable for infants to consume. Only pasteurized honey is safe to be given to babies. Labels of foods should be read to ensure that the honey in the food is pasteurized and safe for consumption by infants.

Honey and infants

Honey and infants is not the only bad combination in fact kids should not be given a diet which has too many sweets as they will form a habit of preferring sweet foods. Once the kid gets used to less of sweet stuff in their diet they can stay away from sweets and lead a healthier adult life.

Honey for infants

Honey for infants can be toxic because of infant botulism. In case a child is suffering with this toxin the parents should be able to recognize the symptoms. This starts with constipation and also damage to the nervous system with muscle weakness. Infants who have botulism and have muscle weakness because of this will not be able to cry robustly and will have difficulty in taking their feeds. The body will seem floppy and limp and also have extreme lethargy.

Honey to infants

It is not safe to give honey to infants as babies under the age of 1 year have not developed bacteria which are beneficial to digestion and they cannot assimilate or ingest botulism spores which are most often present in honey. Instead of taking a chance and exposing the child to the danger of food poisoning it is best to avoid feeding them stuff which they cannot digest until they are old enough to do so.

Is honey good for babies?

If you want to know whether honey is good for babies the answer is a definite no. This is because children can become allergic to a lot of foods which they are given prior to the age of one and as honey has been produced by an insect the child can surely have an allergic reaction to it apart from a food poisoning effect too.

No honey for babies

Apart from the risk of food poisoning honey is also difficult to ingest. As it is a thick sticky liquid which does not dissolve in the mouth of a baby, the child can choke on it while not be able to swallow it. The reason no honey for babies is for their own safety and to avoid the risk of choking.

Why no honey for infants

The reason why there is no honey for infants is because while bees collect nectar they also pick up spores of botulism which gets mixed with the honey. As babies do not have an immune response which is completely formed, their system allows the spores to get activated and let off the toxin which could cause botulism in the child and paralyze it leading to death.

Honey in infants

Apart from all the negative effects of honey which are caused by the botulism spores, honey can also lead to damaged teeth in the child. Honey in infancy is a bad choice and parents should definitely refrain from giving their kids any kind of food which contains honey until they are above one year old.

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