Honey for babies, because it shouldn't be given until 12 months

Who I am
Catherine Le Nevez
@catherinelenevez
Author and references

Contents

  • 1 The benefits of honey
  • 2 Because honey is not given to babies
  • 3 What types of botulism exist
  • 4 What is infant botulism
  • 5 Honey for babies and infant botulism
  • 6 Honey for babies and pacifier

Honey is one of the most natural foods that exist. It has a lot of beneficial properties for the health of young and old. But not too small. In spite of what grandmothers say (“a pinch of honey has never hurt anyone! You'll see how it will do them good!”), Honey should not be given to newborns, not even in the case of self-weaning. The reason? Apart from an excess of sugars that must be avoided both for weight and oral hygiene, the problem has a very specific name and it is infantile botulism. Let's see what it is.



The benefits of honey

Honey can be a real cure-all. In fact it can:

  • stimulate the immune system;
  • calm and "dissolve" the cough;
  • promote bone growth;
  • reduce anxiety;
  • decrease the gastroesophageal reflux;
  • contribute to skin and hair health;
  • improve memory;
  • assist the development of intestinal bacterial flora;
  • guarantee energy reserves.

The fluidifying and calming effect of honey on coughs is one of the reasons why it is very often thought that it is useful to add some to the milk of children to help them fight the annoying symptom and perhaps sleep better. This is fine. But after the little ones have reached one year of age: before this time honey is absolutely not recommended, just like cow's milk. Now we explain why.

Because honey is not given to babies

The bees collect the nectar from flowers and plants and transport it to the hives where other "colleagues" will transform it into honey. The constant coming and going of bees, however, hides a very insidious danger to the health of newborns. By resting on various surfaces during their tireless activity of collecting nectar, insects can capture the spores of “Clostridium botulinum”, a microorganism very widespread in the environment, for example in dust. Normally it does not create any problems but, if they find favorable conditions, the spores can produce a toxin that is very dangerous for its neurological effects, that is the botulinum.



What types of botulism exist

There are several types of botulism:

  • food: it is the best known and is due to the ingestion of the toxin through some foods (an example is canned food);
  • wound: it is caused by the production of toxin from an infected wound;
  • iatrogenic: derives from an incorrect use of botulinum toxin in cosmetics or therapy (it is used for example in aesthetic medicine to eliminate wrinkles);
  • infantile: it is the form that affects children.

What is Infant Botulism

Infant botulism is very common between 2 and 6 months of age, but it can affect babies from 0 to 12 months. It is a serious disease, which causes general paralysis of the body and therefore also respiratory. The consequence can be death by suffocation. There have been 1984 cases in the country since 37. In the United States, on the other hand, there are about 100 cases per year.

Attention, mothers: we certainly don't want to scare you. We just want you to be properly informed about what the risks may be, so as not to succumb to a simple "oh well if I give him honey nothing happens".

Honey for babies and infant botulism

What happens if the newborn comes into contact with the spores of "Clostridium botulinum"? If they arrive in the intestine, they find a bacterial flora that is not yet perfectly formed and functioning, a perfect ground for multiplying, producing botulinum toxin and developing the disease. In adults and older children, the intestinal flora is more complete and therefore the spores cannot take root and are expelled from the body.


Just as they are able to resist for a long time in the environment, the spores of “Clostridium botulinum” can survive for a long time in the honey produced by bees. It is therefore easy to understand why throughout the first year of our children's lives we must be very careful not to let them take it. After all, you can easily do without it.


Baby honey and pacifier

One last recommendation. There is an old “grandmother's advice” that must absolutely be eradicated: dipping the pacifier in honey to make it better accepted by the newborn. Now, apart from the fact that if a baby does not want a pacifier (and this happens especially to those who are breastfed) he cannot be "forced" to take it even "sweetened", we have seen that honey can hide a danger.


Furthermore, unfair practices like this predispose the baby to have dental problems when he is older: added sugars must be avoided. Our children will have plenty of time to eat "crap": let's delay this moment as much as possible!

Text updated on 23 September 2022

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