Infant Botulism | Honey And Other Foods To Avoid Feeding To Your Infant Baby

Honey Can Cause Food Poisoning In Infants

Honey sometimes contains dormant endospores of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. This bacteria produces several toxins which can be dangerous to an infant's immature intestinal tract.

Pediatricians often recommends that infants under the age of one should not be fed or given honey in any form. The reason is that the toxin-producing bacteria in honey can result in a rare but dangerous form of food poisoning called, Infant Botulism, which can lead to illness and even death in infants babies. Giving corn syrup to a child under the age of one can also have the same effect as the honey.

Symptoms of Infant Botulism

When a child under one consumes honey, the following symptoms may occur:

  • baby may become weak
  • baby may be constipated
  • baby may have difficulty feeding or sucking
  • baby may have discomfort that may lead to crying

In severe cases, the baby may not be able to move, or may stop breathing and die. If you notice any of these symptoms in an infant baby that's been fed honey, please contact your doctor immediately or get the baby to the nearest medical facility.

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Don't Use Honey Treat Cold In Infant

It is also true that honey has been used in the home remedy treatment of cold in both infants and adults. This ancient time practice has been passed down through generations. It is the reason why some mothers of newborn infants sometimes use honey in the preparation of their baby's meal or as an alternative to cold medicines.

Some mothers of infants still use honey for treating the symptoms of cold in their infant babies. What these mothers are unaware of is the toxins and dangers in the practice of feeding honey to their infants. To prevent food poisoning that can occur through the feeding of honey, avoid doing the following: Do Not

  • add honey to your baby's food, water or formula.
  • dip your baby's pacifier in honey.
  • give your baby honey as if it were medicine.
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Why Mothers & Care-Givers Prefer Honey

Most people prefer honey to sugar, because it is believed that honey is less processed, and has a distinctive flavor that's preferred to that of sugar. Also because honey is seen as a more natural sweetener than sugar.

The good news is that after one year of age, your child is no longer at risk from this bacteria in honey that can make your kids sick. The reason for this is that the bacteria cannot grow and make poison after the first year of life. So, older infants, children and adults can no longer get sick from this bacteria after consuming it in honey. You can therefore use honey in their food preparation as an alternative to sugar and other sweeteners.

Honey As A Sweetener

Honey plays the same significance when added to or combined with the food we eat. Since ancient times, honey has been used in cooking, baking, as a sweetener in tea and some commercial beverages. It is the one natural sweetener that is most commonly consumed all over the world, especially in remote areas of the world where processed sugar is scarce or not readily available.

Medicinal Uses of Honey

Honey, in addition to being a sweetener, is also used as a medicine for treating various ailments.

  1. Honey has been used in the treatment of diabetic ulcers. Topical honey has been used successfully in cases where the patient cannot use topical antibiotics.
  2. Honey has also been used for centuries as a treatment for sore throats and coughs. It is believed to be an effective soothing agent for coughs.
  3. Honey is also believed to help speed up the healing of mild burns in humans.

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Food That May Have Some Traces of Honey and Corn Syrup

The following food/snacks may have some traces of honey or corn syrup and may therefore pose some danger to your infant child. Avoid giving these to your child until after one year of age:

Honey Flavored Cereal - Mothers love to have their babies snacks on these. If you have to, give your baby the regular, no flavor cheerios.

Canned Fruits - Can fruits, such as, store brand peaches, pears and mangoes are sometimes loaded with corn syrup. Not only are they not healthy for your baby, they can only lay the ground-work for bad dental hygiene. Take care in buying these products. Be sure to read the labels to be sure that your child will be safe eating these canned products.

Chewy Candies - Candies like gummy bears, roll-ups etc.

If you're not the sole caregiver for your infant child, be sure to inform and instruct the other care givers (baby sitters, day care centers personnel) in your child's life what not to feed your child. Always pack enough food and snack in your child's bag to prevent any other food from being offered or introduced to your child.

Is It Possible That A Baby Can Still Get Infant Botulism Even If He Or She Has Not Been Fed Honey?

Yes, it is possible! Other foods, such as, raw fruits and vegetables can also contain the spores that can cause infant botulism.

If you as a parent, plan to introduce your infant baby to semi-solid to solid food before one year of age, proper care should be taken in the preparation of your baby's food. Fruits should be properly washed, and vegetables should be well cooked. Talking about fruits, let's take a look at some fruits and other foods you may need to avoid feeding to your infant:

Other Foods To Avoid Feeding To Your Infant Baby

Food
Reasons
Citrus Fruits, such as, orange, grapefruit, tomatoes, lemon, and lime
These are very acidic fruits, and may cause an allergic reaction in an infant. However, children 1 year and older can be introduced to these gradually.
Cow Milk, Regular Whole Milk, Goat Milk, or Goat's milk formula etc.
These are not suitable for infants under one year old. Though Goat milk has been known to a better option to regular milk for children with milk allergy and/or reflux, it should only be introduced to infants after 1 year old.
Egg Whites
Egg whites are highly allergenic and may cause mild to severe symptoms in infants under 1 year old. Pediatricians usually recommend that parents should only feed eggs or egg whites to their infants after they turn 1.
Peanuts and Peanut-butter
Early introduction of peanuts and peanut products to infants has been found to reduce the likelihood of a child developing peanut allergy. But, if there is a family history of peanut allergies, you need to consult your child's pediatrician before attempting to introduce peanut in your child's diet.
Shell-fish/Fish
Most infants do very well with a fish diet. I started with my kids even as early as 5 month's. But, some infants do develop allergic reaction to eating fish/shell-fish. So, do proceed with caution and watch for any possible negative reaction in your infant.

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Author: Comfort Babatola - ©2013

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Comments 7 comments

SandyMcCollum profile image

SandyMcCollum 4 years ago

I'd never heard that corn syrup was bad for kids. Honey is known as a super food for all the beneficial properties it has, but I just don't like the taste. I love clover honey, which is very different and not made by bees.


ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

@SandyMcCollum - My understanding is that all honey types are made by bees, even clover honey. I believe the clover is just the floral source of the nectar from which it was made.

I do appreciate your comment. Thanks for stopping by!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I remember awhile back that an infant died because she had been given honey. Thanks for sharing this topic. I hope it brings a great awareness to parents of the uses, but also on the harm it can cause infants.


ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

@teaches12345 - Your welcome. And thank you as always, for your comment!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

Amazing. People have been giving honey to babies for years, especially, as you mentioned, when they have a cough or act as though they may have a sore throat. It is so hard to keep up with new research. Since there is no vote up button, voted this useful.


trusouldj profile image

trusouldj 4 years ago from Indiana

I had four kids before I actually heard that you shouldn't give the babies honey. Good thing I didn't. Splendid info. Keep up the great work.


ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA Author

@trusouldj - I know right! Most people don't know this stuff. You will think the hospital will do right by including a "DO NOT FEED HONEY TO YOUR INFANT BABY UNTIL THEY ARE OVER A YEAR OLD' pamphlet/brochure in every new moms take home hospital gift pack.

Just saying, they need to do more to get the word out.

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