Can Babies Eat Honey?

by Cat Bowen

I love honey. It's quite possibly my favorite condiment. I put it in tea, on waffles, all over my husband — anything I want to taste better, gets the honey treatment. Obviously, I couldn't wait to introduce it to my kids, but is it safe? Can babies eat honey? When exactly can I show them just how magical a product from the leavings of the bees is?

When I first got pregnant, I remember hearing all about how I'd have to give up my favorite raw local honey from a farm in upstate New York, and have to switch to the less-spectacular Trader Joe's variety, which, while still yummy AF, doesn't have all the particular notes of my way snobbier syrup. And that information was total hogwash. The worry in raw honey is that there may be botulism spores, and those do not pass to baby, according to Livestrong, and it's highly unlikely that the mother's intestines wouldn't kill it. (But check with your own healthcare provider before chowing down on the sticky stuff.)

Honey is amazing, really. It's a part of religious celebrations, it's purported to have antimicrobial properties, according to the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, and it was even supposedly found in the tombs of the pyramids. Also, it doesn't spoil. Like, ever. Its shelf life is like that of cockroaches and Twinkies. So what could possibly be bad? Can babies eat honey if it's so amazing?

As wonderful as honey is, and as delicious as it tastes, sometimes even things that seem perfect can harbor secrets. (Case in point — don't look under my bed. Please.) Honey, especially raw honey, can contain botulism spores. Yep, the same toxin that gives my forehead that "forever youthful and yet very surprised" appearance can also live in honey, and babies can't fight it, according to The Mayo Clinic.

The Community Practitioner's Digest found that babies should not have honey for the first year of their life, and that includes homemade foods baked with honey. After that? Apart from the calories and negative dental aspect of honey, it's all good. In fact, according to The Journal of Family Practice, after age 1, honey is actually the best medicine for coughing children. It coats their throat and helps them sleep.

So, can babies have honey? Not until they're 1 year old, but after that? They have a lifetime to understand the goodness that is the gooey treat.