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When can kids eat honey?

Question of the Week

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Updated May 21, 2014

Girl (8-10) putting honey on slice of bread
Julie Toy/The Image Bank/Getty Images
Q. I seem to remember something about not giving honey to small children. Can you tell me the age? I am inquiring about a 2 year old taking honey for allergies. Susan, Bella Vista, Ar

A. The general warning is that you should not feed honey to infants under twelve months of age. It should be fine for a two year old, and I have heard of using a daily teaspoon of raw honey as a treatment for allergies. It has something to do with the pollen and other substances in the raw honey helping the patient to build up some immunity to whatever they are allergic to, but you would think that it would trigger their allergies and make them worse until that happens. If not, then great, maybe give it a try.

Honey is also being used as a wound dressing in Australia because of its antimicrobial properties, sometimes working better than topical antibiotics against difficult to treat bacteria.

For a child under twelve months of age, there is a risk of botulism from eating honey and it should be avoided. The spores of the Clostridium botulinum bacteria can be found in honey, and when ingested by an infant, the spores can release a toxin that causes botulism.

Infant Botulism

According to the CDC, infants with botulism 'appear lethargic, feed poorly, are constipated, and have a weak cry and poor muscle tone,' which may 'progress to cause paralysis of the arms, legs, trunk and respiratory muscles.'

Although parents often know not to give their infants under twelve months of age plain honey, they often overlook other foods that contain honey in them, such as Honey Graham Crackers, Honey Nut Cheerios, Honey Wheat Bread, etc. Although the honey in these foods may be processed, it may not be pasteurized, and so may still contain botulism spores in them and should be avoided. If you feel strongly about giving these foods to your infant, call the manufacturer to make sure that they are safe.

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