You may have heard about honey’s antioxidant and antibacterial properties, which makes it seem as though it’s a magical ingredient. Or you may just love the taste of it! Either way, it's important to know that honey isn’t actually safe for babies.

Find out why honey isn’t safe for babies, when it’s OK to start giving your child honey, and what can happen if your baby eats honey.

Why Can’t Babies Have Honey?

Babies under 12 months should not be given honey, because honey contains bacteria that an infant’s developing digestive system can’t handle. Eating honey can cause your baby to become ill with a condition called infant botulism.

You should also avoid giving your baby any processed foods that are made with honey, such as honey graham crackers, for example. Finally, avoid giving your baby a pacifier that’s been dipped in honey.

As a reminder for you, you may have noticed that nearly every jar of honey carries the warning not to give honey to children who are under 12 months of age.

At What Age Can Babies Eat Honey?

When your child is at least 1 year old, he can have honey. By that point his digestive system will be mature enough to pass the bacteria in the honey without it causing illness.

What Happens if You Give Honey to Your Baby?

Giving honey to your baby can lead to infant botulism, which is caused by the bacteria in honey. After an infant has ingested honey, the bacteria will germinate, multiply, and produce a toxin that causes the illness.

What Is Botulism in Babies?

Botulism is an illness caused by the toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum, a type of bacteria that is found in honey and may also be found in other foods, such as home canned foods that become contaminated. Infant botulism specifically refers to the illness when it is contracted by babies who are younger than 12 months old.

Symptoms of infant botulism can include

  • constipation

  • weak crying

  • lack of facial expression

  • lessened gag reflex

  • slower feeding as in weak nursing

  • weakness or floppiness

  • breathing issues

  • decreased movement.

If you suspect your baby has eaten honey, or if he has any of the above symptoms, contact your healthcare provider as soon as you can.

If your baby is diagnosed as having botulism, his breathing and swallowing may be affected. For this reason, he may need special care and monitoring at the hospital, which can include intravenous fluids and/or feedings and being placed on a ventilator. Your baby may also be given an antitoxin to speed up the recovery period.

To keep your little one healthy and safe, wait until her first birthday has passed to introduce honey to your baby. There will be plenty of time for her to sample the flavor and health benefits of honey when she is older. In the meantime, she'll thrive on her diet of breast milk or formula, as well as the wide new world of solid foods she's learning to enjoy.

Don’t forget that you can get rewarded for all those diaper changes by downloading the Pampers Club app. For every Pampers product you scan, you’ll be on your way to exciting rewards like coupons and gifts.

How we wrote this article The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.