Written by Pradeep
Honey is a wonderful gift bestowed by nature on mankind. It offers several general health benefits and cures a lot of illnesses. You must’ve certainly heard about the positive effects of honey for curing cuts, wounds, coughs, colds, nasal congestion, and asthma. Honey also has had proven benefits for those seeking to lose weight and fight allergies.
It is said to ease digestion-related problems and reduce joint inflammations. The countless advantages of honey are being experienced and leveraged by adults for over 2500 years approximately. However, is honey good for babies? Does it have health benefits for babies? If yes, what are those health benefits?
In This Article
In several traditions, specifically in India, babies are fed honey during certain rituals. While this has been practiced over several years, today doctors have a different take on this subject. Today, doctors ask parents to avoid feeding honey to their babies till the age of 12 months.
The reason for this medical advice is the presence of the dormant endospore of a bacterium called the clostridium botulinum in honey. These spores cannot be removed during honey processing. Your baby’s digestive tract is not completely developed and is not acidic enough to kill the spores that enter the digestive tract with the ingestion of honey.
Hence, these spores remain and thrive in the baby’s intestines and produce a toxin leading to food poisoning in babies called infant botulism. This is a rare form of food poisoning and if not treated on time, it could lead to certain unwarranted complications.
The symptoms of infant botulism appear between eight and 36 hours after consuming honey. The symptoms are general weakness, listlessness, and a lack of appetite. In extreme cases, when the condition is neglected, infant botulism could lead to sudden death.
Also read: Is Honey Safe For Infants?
The acidic content of the intestines, in toddlers and adults, is good enough to kill the bacterial spores. Hence the root cause of food poisoning is nipped in the bud in their intestines. Hence, it is safe to feed honey to toddlers and children, but not babies under one year.
Following are some of the health benefits of honey for toddlers and children:
Honey contains three types of sugars, namely, glucose, sucrose, and fructose. While glucose and sucrose get absorbed into the blood stream quickly, fructose remains longer in the digestive system. It enters the bloodstream much later and thus provides energy for a longer duration of time. This leads to toddlers and children being active for longer durations after consuming honey
Honey is a rich source of vitamins such as thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and pyridoxine. It is also rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, sodium and zinc. Honey also contains certain amino acids that are required for the physical development of toddlers and children
As children tend to fall sick more often that adults, they are prescribed paracetamol to relieve their fever and pain. This increased amount of paracetamol consumption could sometimes lead to paracetamol-induced liver damage in children.
Honey is known to have a protective effect on the liver. It has been studied and established that honey reduces the side effects of paracetamol on children’s liver (Source 1)
Honey is known to have a soothing effect on children suffering from a cough. This is especially the case when the child wakes up repeatedly during the night because of blocked nasal passage and cough. Honey soothes the inflamed mucus membrane and the consequent irritation. This helps in reducing cough and provides a much-needed relief to the child
Inflamed air and food passages are soothed by honey when ingested with either warm milk or water. Thus, honey helps reduce difficulties during swallowing experienced by children
People have been applying honey onto wounds with a view to healing them faster, since ages. Well, this wound healing activity of honey has been noted by the scientific and medical community only recently.
A recent study (source 2) revealed that there is a significant improvement in healing of wounds when honey is applied on either fresh traumatic wounds or cutaneous wounds. The study established that honey has antibacterial, wound cleansing and healing properties.
So next time your child has a cut or a scrape, try applying honey on his skin to help the wound to heal faster and prevent any infection
If your child has a persistent cough that bothers him during his sleep, try giving him honey. This thick syrup will coat and soothe the back of your child’s throat, while the sweet taste will cause salivation, which will help to thin mucus and reduce the urge to cough.
Honey can be more effective to soothe a cough than cough syrup. Also, the antioxidants present in honey may even aid the body in warding off nasty cold bugs, thereby improving cold symptoms in your child.
For 1 to 5 years old kids, start by giving half a teaspoon of honey, and for kids above 6 years of age, you can give one teaspoon. This dose of honey can be given as often as required.
For more on this read: 10 Ways To Use Honey To Treat Cough And Cold In Children
Now that we know the health benefits offered by honey to toddlers and children, we must also know which honey is best for our children. Buy certified organic honey only. When buying honey, it is best to ask for certified organic honey, which is darker in shade than the regular local honey and commercial honey.
Local honey is not certified and it runs the risk of causing botulism. Commercial honey cuts down that risk but could have traces of pesticides and chemicals in it. Certified organic honey is safe for consumption and you also have access to all the information with regard to the ingredients present in that jar of goodness.
Do you give honey to your child? In what ways do you find honey beneficial for your child? Do share your experience in the comments section below.
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