The Real Reason Babies Can't Have Honey

When you're pregnant, the list of what food and drinks you should avoid appears never-ending at times. Goodbye, beef carpaccio appetizers and Friday night sushi rolls. Say sayonara to that third cup of coffee and adios to your favorite cocktail. Fortunately, after your little bundle of joy arrives safely into this world, your off-limits list becomes a little less restrictive.

That being said, now that you have a newborn to look after, you may consider keeping a list of what they should avoid. And on the very top of that list is honey. Pooh Bear may love the stuff, but you definitely need to keep it away from your newborn. According to the CDC, honey is only safe after babies have passed their first birthday milestone. For newborns and infants, the sticky sweet liquid is dangerous. Why? Because honey contains bacteria that can cause infant botulism or acute food poisoning. In 2018, the CDC issued a health alert because several infants in Texas became ill with the poisonous bacteria after using honey pacifiers.

Honey can obstruct a baby's motor nerves

Fortunately, there are fewer than 100 cases of infant botulism are reported in the U.S. per year, with botulism due to honey accounting for 15% of those cases (via Insider). But how can a substance as natural as honey harm a baby? Insider reports that there is a poisonous toxin found in honey that when entering the baby's bloodstream, obstructs vital motor nerves to release acetylcholine, a chemical messenger that sends nerve signals to muscles. If this happens, the baby will start to lose control of their muscles and eventually lose control of the ones in charge of swallowing and breathing.

Keeping your baby away from the sticky bottle of honey in your cabinet may be easy enough. Though to be on the safe side, check the ingredients list on any store-bought products or food you feed or have around your infant. The California Department of Public Health warns that there are many commercial products containing traces of honey. So keep your eye out for Pooh Bear's favorite snack until you and your baby get to celebrate their first birthday.