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Is honey safe for infants?

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Honey may seem like a harmless ingredient — and for most children and adults, it is. But what about for babies and toddlers? For instance, can a 3-year-old have honey?


Here, learn the minimum age for raw honey consumption and why you should avoid giving your infant this sweetener.


Is Raw Honey Safe for Infants?

Short answer: No — there are some potential dangers of honey for infants in particular, and the risk is greatest for babies younger than 6 months.


Here's why babies can't eat honey: The sweetener can contain Clostridium botulinum bacteria spores, according to the Cleveland Clinic.


These spores don't typically harm the more developed digestive tracts of children and adults. But babies' undeveloped systems can't always withstand the toxin, so the spores can lead to infant botulism, a rare but potentially life-threatening illness that attacks the nerves.


As a result, no child under the age of 1 year should eat any honey.


Raw honey can be used as a sweetener in other dishes and processed goods. Don't feed your baby under the age of 1 year any of these foods, either, per the Cleveland Clinic. 


Side Effects of Raw Honey in Infants

While infant botulism is rare, it's serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it can cause symptoms like:


  • Constipation
  • Poor feeding
  • Ptosis
  • Sluggish pupils
  • Flattened facial expression
  • Diminished suck and gag reflexes
  • Weak and altered cry
  • Trouble breathing


If your baby shows any signs of this condition after eating honey, seek medical care immediately.


Even a tiny amount of raw honey can lead to infant botulism, so avoid the ingredient altogether until your child is over a year old, per the Cleveland Clinic


When Can Kids Start Easting Honey?

We've established that infants can't eat this sweet ingredient. But what about honey for toddlers — can 2- or 3-year-olds have honey?


Yes, they can, according to the study. Once your child is more than a year old, their digestive tract is developed enough to withstand spores that could lead to infant botulism. 


This also applies to unprocessed versions of the sweetener — for instance, raw honey is safe for 2-year-olds (and any child over the 1-year mark), per the Cleveland Clinic.


Not only can 2-year-olds eat raw honey, but the sweetener might actually have certain health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, these may include:


  • Cough relief
  • Digestive relief
  • Wound care
  • Antioxidant effects that are linked to decreased risk for conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and asthma, according to an April-June 2027 review in Pharmacognosy Research


Kids over the age of 2 years shouldn't have more than 25 grams of added sugar — including honey — per day, according to an August 2016 statement in Circulation. That amounts to less than 6 teaspoons.

You should always consult with your physician or other health care professional before taking any nutritional, herbal remedies or adopting any health advice, whether offered on the Site or otherwise.

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