Risks of feeding honey to infants
Honey has been a part of the human diet for so long. It is packed with antioxidants and other healthful properties. But did you know that in spite of its wholesome nature, honey should not be given to babies? Honey contains bacterias and underdeveloped digestive systems of babies cannot handle it well. This is an exceptional food for adults but not so much for little babies. In fact, it should strictly not be given to babies under the age of one. Here’s why honey is a problem and what else should you give your baby
What is the problem with honey?
Honey may contain a type of bacteria called ‘Clostridium’, that can get inside the baby’s body when they consume honey. Clostridium is mainly found in soil and dust and can contaminate honey. They are one of the biggest causes of foodborne illnesses like food poisoning. Since the digestive systems of babies are immature, they are not capable of fighting off this bacteria. Therefore, honey can cause a serious condition in babies called ‘infant botulism’. Poor appetite, feeble cry, reduced muscle tone, constipation and lethargy are some of the most common symptoms of food poisoning caused by clostridium in infants. The symptoms can develop a few hours or even days after consumption. If conditions get severe, it can cause pneumonia and dehydration.
How does baby’s body react to honey?
Babies can’t efficiently fight clostridium because unlike adults, they do not have a strong and developed digestive system. When the baby is less than one year old, its digestive system is still under development. When an adult consumes honey, their system automatically starts the process of metabolising it and fending off the bacteria. However, the baby’s system is not powerful enough. Thus, the bacteria can generate harmful toxins inside the intestines of the baby. Hence, it is important not to give honey to your little one. Also, be careful about what you are feeding your baby and always read product labels to ensure that they do not contain any honey.
When to introduce honey?
The presence of this bacteria does not mean that honey is unsuitable to be given to kids. Yes, babies under one year of age should not have it under any circumstances. However, it is harmless for children above the age of one and adults. Doctors recommend that honey should only be introduced to babies when they are at least 12 months old. Do not take your chances with honey that claim to be ‘filtered’ or ‘pasteurised’ as they might not be 100% free of the harmful bacteria.
What else to feed your baby?
So your baby has got to wait for a few months to safely consume honey. What else can you feed it meanwhile? Don’t worry, there are a number of other nutritionally rich foods that you can give your baby without having to worry about germs. Bananas are a great option for babies as a sweet treat because they are rich in potassium. If you are looking at first food options for your baby, cooked sweet potatoes can be an excellent choice.