Honey for infants: When can you feed honey to babies?
One of the most popular questions I hear in my pediatric nutrition practice is, “When can you feed honey to babies?” Many of us know there’s something to know about honey for infants, but we’re not always quite sure of the specifics.
Let’s take a closer look at when babies can have honey and how to best introduce it.
IN THIS ARTICLE:
Can babies have honey?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends  babies under 12 months should not eat honey, raw or cooked.
Introducing honey to infants too soon puts them at risk of a serious, though rare, infection called botulism. Botulism can occur when a baby consumes food contaminated with the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. This bacteria produces toxic spores in the body, which can lead to serious illness.
Is honey healthy for babies?
Honey may be used as a sweetener for babies older than 1 year. Its mild flavor is easy for little ones to enjoy, and in small quantities, it can be added to foods such as plain yogurt or vegetables to make them more palatable.
Honey may also be used as a cough suppressant for babies and toddlers  over the age of 1 year old. Talk to your pediatrician to find out if this home remedy would work for your child.
Honey nutrients for babies
For babies older than 1 year, honey provides carbohydrates as well as some vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants — including small amounts of calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Honey is a sweetener, however, and should be consumed in moderation. Therefore, honey isn’t likely to be a significant source of nutrients in your child’s diet.
Honey for infants: When can babies eat honey?
Can babies between 6 to 9 months old eat honey?
No, babies 6 - 9 months old shouldn’t eat honey. This includes raw, pasteurized, and cooked honey. Make sure to check food labels to ensure they are free of honey.
Can babies between 9 to 12 months old eat honey?
It’s not recommended to feed honey to babies 9 - 12 months old, either. As your baby’s immune system is still immature, it’s best to wait a little longer before introducing honey.
Can babies over 12 months old eat honey?
Yes, you can feed honey to babies over 12 months old in small amounts. Make sure to serve it well mixed into foods or spread thinly on another food to make it easy to chew. Sticky foods increase the risk of choking when served in too-large portions.
Why can't babies have honey?
Babies can’t have honey because it increases the risk of a rare but serious illness called botulism. Botulism is a serious and life-threatening condition that requires emergency treatment. Signs of botulism include muscle weakness, weak cry, constipation, and more.
Once a baby is over 12 months old, their immune system is much better equipped to fight off illness and it is safe to serve honey.
How to introduce honey to your baby
After your child’s first birthday, you can add honey to foods as a sweetener. It can be consumed raw or used for cooking or baking. As with any form of sweetener or sugar, make sure to include it in your child’s diet in moderation.
Serving honey for baby-led weaning
Honey shouldn’t be used in the early stages of baby-led weaning. See below for tips on preparing honey for children over 1 year old.
How to prepare honey for children over 1 year old
Serve honey raw by mixing it in with plain yogurt or serving spread thinly on toast or a muffin. You can also cook and bake with honey. To make some vegetables such as squash or carrots easier to enjoy, drizzle a little honey over the top before roasting.
Is honey a common allergen?
No, honey is not one of the common top allergens; however, your child may have an allergy or be sensitive to any food. If you suspect your baby is having an adverse reaction to honey, stop serving immediately and contact your pediatrician.
Is honey a choking hazard?
Honey can be a choking hazard when served in large quantities. Since it’s sticky, honey may be difficult for small children to chew. Make sure to serve honey in small quantities, well mixed into or spread thinly on a food.
So can babies have honey? Not if they’re under 12 months, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Avoid giving honey in any form – raw or cooked – to babies less than a year old. It can make them very sick.
If your baby is over 12 months, then you can start introducing honey as a natural sweetener. Serve it in small quantities so it doesn’t become a choking hazard. You might try spreading it over toast or mixing it with yogurt. Keep in mind that honey is best for your child in moderation.
Honey for infants FAQ
Q: Can I feed honey to my baby as a first food?
Honey should not be given as a first food. In fact, leading health experts  recommend waiting until after your baby turns 1 year to introduce honey to reduce the risk of a botulism infection.
Q: Can babies eat honey every day?
Honey is mainly a source of sugar in the diet and therefore should be consumed in moderation. We recommend limiting honey consumption to a few times per week.
Q: Can toddlers eat raw honey?
Toddlers can consume raw honey after their first birthday. As with all raw foods, it’s best to choose a product from a trusted source, such as a local farm or honey producer.
Q: Is honey poisonous to babies?
Honey itself isn’t poisonous to babies, but it may contain a certain type of bacteria that can make babies very sick. Therefore, it’s recommended to wait to serve honey until your baby is 1 year old.
Note: The content on this site is for informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice from your doctor, pediatrician, or medical professional. If you have questions or concerns, you should contact a medical professional.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2018). Botulism. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/infections/Pages/Botulism.aspx
Grogan, S. et al. (2016). Honey for Acute Cough in Children. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2016/0701/p20.html
CDC (2023). Foods and Drinks to Avoid or Limit. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/foods-and-drinks-to-limit.html