There are a million ways we try protect our babies, and still, it seems like every time we read the Internet or talk with a friend, we find that there are a million and one ways our infants could be harmed, and it is sometimes difficult not to worry. One easy way to protect your newborn is to delay giving honey (as well as light and dark corn syrup) to your babies until they are least one-year-old. Honey is a healthy and natural sweetener, but unfortunately, it is one of the foods that have been identified to cause a very rare, but dangerous form of food poisoning.
This form of food poisoning is caused by Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum) spores. When the spores enter the infant’s digestive tract they can multiply and cause infant botulism, which usually presents with constipation and floppy movements. As the poisoning progresses, you could notice a weaker cry than normal and changes in the baby’s ability to nurse. Infant botulism has a scary reputation because it can cause paralysis that starts at the infant’s head and spreads downwards causing respiratory failure. However, we know that one way to prevent it is by avoiding honey during the first year. We are also fortunate to have an excellent treatment for this disease, and a full recovery is expected when infant botulism is found early in its course.
While it is not safe for children under age one, honey is an easy and healthy way to add a little sweetness into your older toddler’s day! It has been found to contain Vitamin C, calcium, and iron, and it has great antibiotic and antioxidant properties. Try adding honey to yogurt, hot cereals, and peanut butter and banana sandwiches for a tasty treat.
Have a deliciously sweet day!
Ellie Kahn, TCM intern