Never Give Honey To An Infant


Because it might have botulism, here’s what the Mayo clinic has to say.

I believe it was to do with contamination of honey in a small proportion of cases with botulin toxin. This could lead to infant botulinism.

I believe it was a bit of an over-reaction- I think it only applied to some honey from Italy, but it became a bit of a scare story.

It’s not a scare story. Honey is naturally contaminated with botulism spores as bees collect nectar and make it into honey. You and I, being adults, have bacteria in our guts that generate oxygen, killing the botulinum spores, and negating their effects. Babies don’t, so they are susceptible to botulism poisoning, since their guts don’t have as much oxygen.

Cite: Here.


Wow. Interesting. Coming from an Irish-Catholic family that used to soothe teething pain with Jameson’s I really couldn’t imagine mere honey to be dangerous.

Jameson’s is a lot cleaner than bee vomit.

We used Bushmill’s on Aaron after the Orajel pissed him off. :smiley:

My mom used to give me formula spiked with a bit of honey when I had colic as a baby. She didn’t know any better, but I blame the honey for how I turned out. :wink:


It has been hyped and sensationalized. See Infant Botulism from Health Canada for a rational explanation of the problem. The fact is that it’s a rare illness, about 70 to 90 cases in the US per year. At least in Canada, most honey is not contaminated with botulism spores.

While it’s safer to not feed honey to infants, the risk that you are avoiding is small.

I hear that that is how they’ll soon be marketing it.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Bushmill’s could get away with the same marketing scheme. :stuck_out_tongue:

The risk you’re avoiding may be small, but the “sacrifice” to avoid that risk is even smaller. It’s easy enough to avoid giving honey to a baby, so why not do it?

My husband’s parents realized that this method may not be such a good idea when little toddler Jeffy was following them around the house saying “Gotch! Gotch!” The soon realised that he was asking for more Scotch!
p.s. to Robin: Arthur just turned 3! Can you believe our little guys are so big?

The problem is that most people are poor judges of risk, and many stories in the media on health are sensational, poorly written, and missing important facts.

If you don’t want your baby to get sick, you would be better off feeding it honey and putting more effort into the safe handling and preparation of food. The chances of your baby becoming seriously ill are much higher from foodborne illnesses like Salmonella and Campylobacter.

Many people fixate on unusual and rare hazards, and ignore the common hazards. Vaccination rates for children in the United States are a national embarrassment.

I agree. If I never again see and antibacterial handsoap outside of a hospital, I will be a happy person. “Safety” devices are mostly an excuse to not supervise your child. Bring back the slides and merry-go-rounds! But this is one case where I err on the side of caution. There’s no treatment for botulism poisoning. It hits quickly, and it’s fatal. Since there’s no offsetting benefit to giving honey, it’s simply not worth the risk in my book.

How about **not **feeding it honey and putting more effort into the safe handling and preparation of food? Why on earth would a baby need honey anyway? Besides the (admitedly small) botulism risk, why would parents want to encourage a sweet tooth in their infants? No honey, no sugar, no corn syrup. Breastmilk, carrots, pears, sweet potatoes, applesauce, bannanas - there’s plenty of sweet things that also contain good nutrition and will develop a taste for healthy sweets instead of sugary sweets. I see absolutely zero reason to give a baby empty sugar calories, honey or otherwise.

According to Health Canada:

I hear you, and I read that too. I’m basing my information on what my daughter’s neonatal intensive care nurses told me, as well as the nutrition and feeding information packet sent home by the hospital.

But, if we take it as read that a botulism case is only a few days in the hospital, I still have to ask why? Why is a few days in the hospital, with the attendant fright, medical bills, time off work, etc. worth it? What compelling reason or benefit is there to giving honey to an infant? What trouble or inconvienece is there in avoiding it?

Oh, good lord, NO! Aaron is walking and talking, and we’re working on potty training now. It seems like yesterday that sitting up was a big deal. Where does the time go?

mks57, every one of those cases represents an actual child. The risk may be minimal, but still, why take it when honey isn’t essential to life. As others like Green Bean (and boy, isn’t that ironic) have pointed out, babies get sugar in their vegetables and fruits, and plenty of it. I’d rather teach my son to eat fresh fruits and veggies than go for empty calories, which is basically what honey is. All the better to fight obesity, which is what the problem really is.


Honey is pretty much the only agriculutural product we use in its raw form, without any processing at all to kill any contaminants. The botulism bacteria is a fairly common soil contaminant, so there’s no real way to predict where it might pop up. And, yes, while most botulism cases heal quickly and without side effects, paralysis and death do actually occur in a significant minority of cases. It’s not worth the risk.

-Microbiologist hat OFF-

What if someone said, “Don’t feed your children chicken, eggs, hamburger, or uncooked vegetables”, and they had solid statistical evidence that every year in the United States, more than 20,000 children contracted food poisoning, which can be serious or deadly for some children.

I understand your point, I’m just trying to put it in a different perspective.

Because the risk of food poisoning for these is mitigated by cooking the food. I can’t think of many people who would be so stupid as to think that steak tartare is good baby food. But many people are ignorant of the danger in honey. They think it’s perfectly okay; after all, Grandma gave it to them, so it must be OK for babies.

More importantly, honey is pure sugar and therefore pure empty calories, something most kids don’t need anyway. In contrast, the foods you mentioned are worth the risk, because they offer nutrients the child needs.


My parents didn’t use booze for teething, they used paregoric. But I’m fine! :D:D:D

That would explain a lot right there. :smiley: :stuck_out_tongue: