Why can’t babies eat honey yet?

There’s a pretty extensive list of foods that babies aren’t always advised to eat during the first year or beyond, and most of them seem to make sense. Peanuts? Everyone’s heard peanut allergy horror stories. Shellfish? Fair enough. But honey? What’s so bad about honey?

Risks of honey

Honey can actually contain spores of the Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which can cause botulism, a very serious disease that could make a baby very sick. Even honey that is pasteurized can still have C. botulinum in it, and so this should be avoided as well. This isn’t to say that honey itself is dangerous, however – C. botulinum poses no risk to older children and adults, as their digestive and immune systems are developed enough to fight off the bacteria without you so much as noticing.

So, when can babies eat honey?

The one-year mark is the point at which most doctors and other experts feel comfortable including honey in a baby’s diet. By this point, a baby’s immune and digestive systems should be developed enough to deal with the bacteria.

What if I have given my child honey?

Don’t panic. Botulism is a very serious condition, but it is treatable, especially if it’s caught early on. Symptoms generally appear between 3 and 30 days after consumption, and constipation is generally among the first symptoms displayed. You should call Baby’s doctor just in case, but it’s far more likely than not that they will not develop botulism.

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