Last Updated on April 21, 2020 by Kinacle.

Honey: Why Is It So Bad For Babies?When it comes to introducing a solid diet to your little one, there’s certain foods you’re told to stay clear of. This is because, young babies have a lower immune system, as well as a more sensitive digestive system. There’s a number of foods which should be avoided, but honey is by far one of the most potentially harmful foods you can feed your infant.

So, why is honey bad for baby and what harm could it really do?

What Harm Can Honey Do To Babies?

Many parents feed their baby honey and report no ill side effects. So, why does the World Health Organization and The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advise against it?

Well, the trouble is, honey can contain Clostridium Botulinum spores. This can lead to a very serious condition known as botulism. It’s a very rare condition, with an estimated 145 cases being reported each year in America. So, if it’s so rare, why are there so many warnings about feeding honey to babies? It’s because out of those 145 cases, approximately 94 of them are infants. Going deeper into the findings, 90% of babies diagnosed with infant botulism are less than six months old.

Doctors fear the actual number of annual cases of botulism could be as high as 250, with many patients left undiagnosed.

Understanding Infant Botulism

Infant botulism isn’t just caused by honey, it can also be caused by soil. If baby is in the backyard for example, and they eat a handful of soil, they could end up ingesting Clostridium Botulinum spores. However, in the majority of cases the condition is brought on by honey.

When adults swallow these spores, they almost never experience any negative side effects. However, a baby’s gastrointestinal tract isn’t yet fully developed. So, when the spores enter the body, they germinate and start to produce a botulinum toxin.

What’s scary about this is botulinum toxin is currently considered the most poisonous natural substance for humans. Only a little, 0.0000001mg for each kg of a person’s body weight to be exact, is required to be lethal. If that amount of the toxin enters the blood stream, it can kill a person in minutes. It does this by paralyzing the muscles used for breathing.

This toxin is so dangerous that researchers can not even publicize the gene sequence of the toxin because it poses a security risk.

Out of all infant botulism cases reported worldwide, the majority are in America. Some states are more prone to the condition too including Utah, Pennsylvania and California. It’s also thought that in 10% of SIDS cases, it could actually be infant botulism which caused the fatality.

What Are The Symptoms To Watch Out For?

It’s really important to watch out for the symptoms of infant botulism due to the severity of the condition and how quickly they can deteriorate. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the most common symptoms of infant botulism include:

  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weaker cry
  • Loss of head control
  • Impaired gag reflex

The trouble with infant botulism, is that although it can be fatal, in most cases babies are only mildly affected. This means it can go undiagnosed in the early stages. Constipation is typically the first symptom to appear. It can develop anywhere from 3 to 30 days after baby has ingested the Clostridium Botulinum spores.

A loss of appetite and weaker cry are the next symptoms to develop. Often, this is as severe as the condition gets before it is diagnosed. However, it can progress pretty quickly to a loss of head control, an impaired gag reflex and there may be drool coming from baby’s mouth.

It’s really important to get your baby checked out by a doctor if you notice any of these symptoms. However, if the symptoms appear to relate to the latter stages of the condition such as a weaker cry and loss of head control, they should be taken directly to the emergency room, rather than the doctor.

Can It Be Treated?

Infant botulism can thankfully be treated, but early diagnosis is vital. If your little one is diagnosed with the condition, they’ll usually need to be placed into an Intensive Care Unit for around a month. Here, they will be fed through a tube and be exposed to mechanical ventilation.

After being in intensive care, they will also then need to be kept in a hospital ward for up to two weeks. If it has been caught and treated early enough, the majority of babies will go on to make a full recovery. The number of babies who die from the condition is less than 1%.

The average cost of treatment is just over $100,000. This is unfortunate, as it poses an additional worry on top of the fear of losing your baby.

So, Honey Won’t Necessarily Harm My Baby?

Infant botulism is rare, but the dangers presented from honey are still very real. The question you need to ask yourself is whether you’re happy to risk giving your baby the condition just to allow them a little honey?

Typically, honey is safe after 12 months of age. So, eliminating honey from the diet for just 12 months seems like a very small sacrifice when you consider the potential dangers. It’s also worth noting that it isn’t just raw honey you need to be careful of. Any products containing honey can also contain the spores. Even a little honey placed onto baby’s pacifier can be highly dangerous.


Overall, honey can have many health benefits, but for babies under the age of 12 months, it presents far more risks than benefits. It’s definitely worth heeding the advice of the World Health Organization and The American Academy of Pediatrics and avoiding honey until baby is old enough to fully digest it.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or licensed medical professional before making any medical decisions.

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  1. THANKS for this information i learned from this about the honey. I thought if it is good for toddlers it is also advisable for babies. Now i have the awareness and ill share it to my friends.
    Learned lesson personally about this lesson, “everything is permisible but not everything is benificial”.


    1. It’s really great to read information like this, especially if one is raising a baby or kids. Adults engaged in the care of young children should be knowledgeable about things like this. Baby food safety is very important. It should not be taken for granted. As they always say, “Better safe than sorry”.

  2. I’m quite surprised to read that honey can be harmful to infants. I mean my aunt that delivered her baby a few months ago mixes honey in the pap that she feeds her baby boy and in as much as she has not noticed these botulism symptoms, such as lack of appetite, weaker cry, constipation, in her baby, I think that it is right I tell her to stop using honey as part of his meal.

    I wouldn’t want anything to happen to my little cousin which is the reason that I would be teaching her, using this article, the dangers involved in continuing to feed her baby honey and I hope she will listen to me

    1. Indeed, share this article with her and let’s hope she takes it seriously because her baby’s health and safety is important. Adults should always exercise caution when feeding babies because not everything is baby-friendly.

      I also didn’t know this before. Good thing I never fed my kids honey when they were babies. But now that they’re grown up, I usually give it to them when they have a cough because it is said to have therapeutic and antibiotic effects.

  3. Glad to read about this article, giving us an ideas of what are better for our babies. Personally I use honey and garlic every morning giving me many health benefits. 😀

    1. Studies do recommend honey and garlic as a very good natural cure for certain illnesses. It’s a good thing you’re not allergic to honey because research indicates some people are allergic to it. Glad to know you’re enjoying its health benefits.

  4. I was really shocked after reading this blog. I cannot imagine that honey can cause botulism in infants. I thought honey is beneficial to the baby. We have a lot of honey in my place especially every summer. 14 years ago, I give one teaspoonful of honey daily to my 6 months old baby as a replacement for his vitamin C since my father told me that honey is good for babies. Maybe my son was lucky enough that nothing bad happens to him.

    From now on, I will spread this news to moms out there. Thank you for this information. However, waiting for 12 months before you can feed your baby with honey is a small sacrifice at all.

    1. Wow, that is really great that nothing bad happened to your kid. I guess many people think that honey is healthy for everyone, and I was one of those before I got to read this article. My family uses honey instead of sugar all the time and even mixes this to apple cider whenever they drink it, so it lead me to think that it is very good. I guess this is one lesson for that teaches us to not stereotype anything and always research or ask doctors before giving anything to our kids. What should be healthy could actually have harmful effects.

    2. Yes, I am also glad that nothing bad happened to your son when you gave him honey. He is really lucky! Bless him.

      Like you, this information also came as a shock to me because I didn’t know of the ill-effects of honey on babies until now. Thank you for sharing this article with other parents 🙂

  5. Before this, I didn’t know that honey is actually very harmful for infants, so it’s awesome that I got to read this article. Botulism could be very deadly, but honey containing spores that could lead to this for babies needs to be known by everyone, especially mothers. In our country, this is not given much attention though, and honey is promoted to be a really healthy organic product so I had no idea that this is possible.

    1. Yes, we thought the same thing, Meg. I also didn’t know it could bring harm to anyone because it is said to have a lot of health benefits. Now we know there’s an exception. Thank God for information like this. I do hope we could educate more parents about this.

  6. Happy to read the article. Never new anything about honey unsafe for babies. Lucky me I don’t have to worry since honey is scars in our country. But I have heard many parents still continue to give honey for their babies as supplement for vitamin C. Raw honeys are often used since it has the complete vitamins in it. But I doubt it since raw honeys don’t look hygienic and are being sold by unknown source. Anyway whether true or not, less percentage or more I don’t take the chance of risking the safety of my baby. Anyway its danger is under the age of 12 months only you have all the time to wait. Putting your baby at risk is never worth a try!

    1. Indeed, no parent should risk his/her baby’s health and safety. That would be irresponsible. As a rule, it is said, “If you’re not sure, don’t!” It’s always best to consult a medical practitioner when it comes to safe foods for babies.

  7. Oh wow, I’m speechless! I never knew that honey is potentially dangerous for the infants. I always read how it’s healthy and so on but nobody ever warned us to be careful when it comes to small children. Thank you for that!

    Our boy is older than 12 months already but I am so happy that I never gave him any honey now. I regularly have it in my tea and I was tempted a few times to give some to him as well but for some reason I never did. It’s like I knew! Highly informative article. I learned a lot.

    1. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve also read articles about the negative effects of honey. I was also very surprised when I read this article,

      I’ve read about allergies to bees and how bee stings can be fatal, but never about the bad effects of honey. Indeed, we learn new things every day!

  8. Thanks for the wonderful information. It’s a big help to read this useful article. Most of moms out there use to feed their babies by sweet goods. These article made us aware of benefits and risks.

    1. This is truly an eye-opening article, nnacrter. I hope you can help us share/spread this important information to other parents 🙂

  9. Great information! I was personally not aware that honey for infants can cause this much danger. My mother in law used to let my children take honey with lemon everyday. She insisted it prevents indigestion and makes them immune to minor sickness. From now on, I will inform my mother friends about infant botulism and its effects. Thank you so much and God bless!

    1. Thank goodness your kids didn’t suffer from any medical issues due to honey. It’s true it has a lot of benefits, but apparently not for babies.

      We would really appreciate you sharing this information with other parents. Thanks in advance, Katherine!

  10. I wasn’t aware of these things until I read this article. People always perceive honey as a useful product, it’s just now that I learned that its not always the case. Thank you for these information. I’d like to learn more about this. God bless.

  11. Wow, I never knew that honey can be this dangerous to child’s consumption and I was thinking that it’s more safer that raw sugar consumption. Clostridium Botulinum spores, this is actually my first time of hearing it and it seems to be really dangerous to children.

    I am definitely glad to getting this information about kids and honey consumption and it’s devastating side effects. Thank God, that it’s treatable because I really wouldn’t know what a parent would do if such results in fatality of their kids.

    I’m definitely kicking out all honey that I have at home until my little ones grows up, and then we can start buying honey again because it’s well known that prevention is better than cure.

  12. Majority of us know the benefits of honey until I read this article. I highly appreciate it. We need spread this knowledge to parents and excpectant mothers. Honey considered as natural antibiotic could be life threatening below 1 yr old. I will definitely take note of it. Thank you so much.

  13. I always read honey is bad for infants . But I never knew why until I read this article, good write with lots of information . Thank you and I will spread this info out .

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