As babies wean off milk onto purées and finger foods, it might be tempting to sneak some honey into their pancakes or homemade oat bars to help make them a bit more appealing.
But experts warn that giving babies under one honey is an absolute no-go.
This is because honey can occasionally contain a type of bacteria which can produce nasty toxins in a baby’s intestines.
This can then lead to something called infant botulism, which is a very serious illness.
What is botulism?
Botulism is a rare condition caused by toxins produced by a certain type of bacteria called Clostridium botulinum that can be found in honey.
Babies under three months old are most at risk of it, as their gut microbiome is still developing.
Symptoms can come on in as little as a few hours to several days after exposure – and initially include sickness, stomach cramps, diarrhoea or constipation, according to the NHS.
Without treatment, botulism causes paralysis that spreads down the body from the head to the legs.
Other symptoms include:
- drooping eyelids
- blurred or double vision
- facial muscle weakness
- difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- slurred speech
- breathing difficulties
- Affected babies may also have a weak cry, find it difficult to feed, and have a floppy head, neck and limbs.
What to do if your baby has eaten honey
If your baby has been given honey or has eaten something with honey in, don’t panic. Instead, keep an eye out for any symptoms of botulism over the next 30 days (and it goes without saying, don’t give them anymore food containing honey).
If they start displaying any of the symptoms of botulism, go to your nearest A&E department or immediately dial 999, and let them know your baby has had some honey.
When can you introduce honey?
Children over the age of one can have honey, according to paediatrician Dr Reyna Trevino (known as @doctorrosesbaby on TikTok), because by the time they reach this age, they can digest the bacteria easier.
But Solid Starts, which helps guide parents through weaning safely, recommends waiting until kids are nearer two years of age to introduce honey, so they don’t get a taste for the sweet stuff.
It’ll also help their teeth stay healthy in the long-run.