in collaboration with
Olivia Beziat (Pediatric dietitian nutritionist)
Honey, a 100% natural product, but which is not safe for the health of babies and young children! From what age can a baby eat it? Why shouldn’t you give it to young children, what if your baby has consumed honey? We take stock with a dietician.
Honey, a 100% natural product, known for its health benefits, is however not without danger. Indeed, it may present a danger to the health of young children and especially babies, due to the presence ofa toxin. It therefore has no place in the food diversification of infants. Explanations.
No honey in food before 1 year
“If your baby is less than 12 months old, honey has a microbiological riskbecause it can contain spores, i.e. the dormant form of a toxin dangerous for a still very young immune system like that of a baby“, specifies Olivia Beziat, dietician nutritionist, before adding: “This powerful neurotoxin is secreted by a bacterium, Clostridium botulinumresponsible for a rare childhood disease, infant botulism. These spores are present in dust and certain soils, and can thus be transported by bees and then end up in a jar of honey. she explains. If swallowed by the baby, the spores germinate, bacteria colonize the intestine and release toxins.
Know that all natural honeys, even labeled organic, are concerned and whatever the shape, origin, whether raw or cooked. The heat, moreover, does not make it possible to ignore the risk of botulism. According to Olivia Beziat: “Theare spores are heat resistant, heating the honey in your recipes, when preparing a compote or a cake is not enough. It takes very high temperature processes like industrial sterilization to destroy them in food, but this process would also remove all of the valuable vitamins and properties of honey.“.
In summary, no honey for an infant, i.e. from birth to 12 months past, according to the official recommendations of ANSES (National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety). An opinion shared by Dr. Pierre Popowski, homeopathic pediatrician in Paris.
What is infant botulism?
Infant botulism is a rare disease, a bacterium that affects the nervous system that can cause paralysis and is sometimes accompanied by serious respiratory problems requiring hospitalization. The symptoms are quite common at first, hence the difficulty of diagnosis: constipation, general fatigue, weak sucking reflex, then a loss of control of the head, etc. Nevertheless, rest assured, despite these worrying symptoms, fatal cases are extremely rare.
From what age can you give honey to your child
Beyond 12 months, the child’s immune response is considered sufficiently effective to allow it to eliminate germs on its own. “Nevertheless honey, although natural and rich in interesting properties, is a product that contains lots of sugars, and that should be avoided until 3 years in the meals of the young child, even if it is organic, for health reasons. It is therefore not recommended to dip your baby’s pacifier in it so that he accepts it, as it can be said, as well as adding it to his bottle.“, advises the specialist in pediatric nutrition. We also do not give honey against cough to a child of this age. Beyond 3 years, always taking into account the sugars that compose it, you can offer small quantities. in a dairy product or on a slice of butter, so that the child can experience the taste of honey.
What to do if you gave your baby honey by mistake?
infant botulism remains a rare disease. So in most cases, rest assured, nothing will happen. Nevertheless, avoiding honey in baby’s diet is a precautionary principle.
If your baby has eaten it, simply stop giving it to him and keep an eye on his general condition for 12 to 36 hours after exposure to this food. According to the pediatrician, it is also prudent to seek medical advice from your doctor doctor or pediatrician. And of course to consult, in case of doubt.
Breastfeeding and honey: what are the risks for my baby?
You like honey-based products and are you breastfeeding your baby? Do you usually taste it or use it against a cough or to find sleep? So you wonder if there is a danger that the toxin passes through your breast milk and infects your infant? The answer of our two experts is formal: no the spores of Clostridium botulinum do not pass through the milk ducts and therefore in breast milk. So, good news, there is no danger in continuing to breastfeed, if you regularly consume honey or even different honeys.
Can special baby biscuits containing honey be given before the age of one year?
Indeed, there is indeed infant cereal or mini crackers labeled for babies under 12 months, on sale in supermarkets or specialized stores, and containing breadI. The question then arises whether or not to give it to your child. Asked about this point, our two experts want to be reassuring: “These products are safebecause infant food regulations require extensive microbiological analyzes to ensure the absence of Clostridium botulinum“. Tips you can follow without risk to give your children the taste of honey.