When Can My Baby Have Honey?

Toddler eating

Weekend Images Inc. / Getty Images

When your baby starts solids, you may notice that they prefer sweeter foods, such as berries or sweet potatoes. Many babies do have a sweet tooth, but not everything sweet is safe for them. Honey should never be fed to little ones under a year old.

Honey is a delicious, natural sweetener, but for babies, it can be dangerous. Even a tiny dab of honey on a pacifier to help your little one get through a shot at the doctor's office or rubbing honey on the gums to soothe teething pain is considered unsafe and should be avoided completely. A type of bacteria in honey can cause serious and even fatal issues in infants.

Here, we'll discuss why honey isn't safe for your baby under 1 and when it can be safely introduced.

Is Honey Safe for My Baby?

Honey is not considered safe for babies under age 1. Eating honey puts babies at risk of infant botulism, a type of food poisoning that can be fatal to babies.

"Babies who are under 1 year old should never be given any type of honey, whether it’s raw honey, unpasteurized honey, mass-produced honey, local honey, or any processed foods that contain honey," emphasizes Harland Adkins, RDN, a registered dietician nutritionist and the founder and general manager of Fast Food Menu Prices.

And while honey may be a good alternative to straight table sugar, it is still considered a form of added sugar. Like other types of added sugar, it is recommended to avoid honey until your child reaches the age of 2.

Risks of Giving Baby Honey Too Soon

Infant botulism is the most serious risk associated with feeding babies honey too young. Although infant botulism is rare, it can be fatal. This is why you should not give any honey at all to children under age 1.

Honey contains a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. The botulinum spores colonize in the bowels and this can lead to poisoning in infants. "Because your baby's microbiome is still developing, the botulinum spores can create toxins that attack the nervous system," explains Aimee Tyler-Smith RD, B.Ed, a registered pediatric dietician and the creator of The Nest: Nutrition for Mama and Baby

Signs of infant botulism include constipation, dehydration, poor feeding, and weakness.

Feeding your baby honey while they are under age 2 is not recommended, either, because babies at this age should not have any added sugar in their diet. Too much sugar in children's diets is associated with a variety of health problems including heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, tooth decay, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

It would be best to avoid feeding honey to a baby between the ages of 1 and 2, but if they occasionally try a food that has honey as an ingredient, there is no need to worry or be concerned for their safety. While a little bit of honey here and there is unlikely to do any harm, families are advised to focus on eating and drinking foods and beverages without added sugar, aiming to avoid all added sugar, honey included, for children under 2.

When and How to Introduce Honey

It is best to introduce honey after your baby turns 2. "This will help them to develop acceptance of a wider variety of foods and flavors," notes Tyler-Smith. If you chose to, you can also introduce honey in very limited amounts after age 1. Babies over age 1 are no longer at risk for infant botulism.

To feed your baby honey, mix a small amount into foods like yogurt or oatmeal. You can also spread a bit of honey onto toast or celery sticks. "As with any other food, start slow," advises Adkins. "It is a good idea to incorporate honey into your baby's diet by mixing a small amount of it with another food."

Refrain from introducing any other new foods for three to five days to rule out allergies. If your baby does not show any potential allergic reaction at this point, you can continue to serve small amounts of honey while beginning to introduce other new foods as well.

In limited amounts at a safe age, honey has many nutritional benefits. It is rich in antioxidants, which promote healing, and it has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Honey has even been shown to play an effective role in managing some diseases.

What Amount of Honey Should I Give My Baby?

Before the age of 1, you should not give your baby any amount of honey (even a tiny dab). You can serve a small amount of honey occasionally if you choose to give it to your baby between 1 and 2 years of age. While it is not technically recommended at this age, honey won't hurt if your baby has a little from time to time.

Children over age 2 should be limited to no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar daily. It can be hard to stick to this recommendation if you are serving prepackaged foods, so check your labels. The amount of honey you should give your baby should be within the 6 teaspoon limit.

Amount of Honey to Give Your Baby, Based on Age
Under 1 year No honey at all
1 to 2 years Little to no honey
2 years and up Within the limit of 6 teaspoons of added sugar daily

A Word From Verywell

Honey should be completely avoided under age 1 to avoid the risk of infant botulism, which can be deadly. Botulism is not restricted to babies but because their gut flora is still immature, they face a greater risk of serious or fatal symptoms.

Because it is considered an added sugar, honey should also be mostly avoided until age 2. A little honey here and there would not be a concern, but ideally, children under 2 should not consume foods or beverages with added sugars, honey included.

Honey has many nutritional benefits so it is a good choice for a sweetener, as long as you stick to the recommended maximum of 6 teaspoons added sugar per day for children age 2 and up.

Reach out to your child's pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about feeding your baby honey.

Was this page helpful?
5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Botulism. American Academy of Pediatrics. Updated November 2018.

  2. Added Sugar in Kids' Diets: How Much is Too Much? American Academy of Pediatrics.

  3. Hinkle R, Cox N. Infant botulismAFP. 2002;65(7):1388.

  4. Prevention of Allergies and Asthma in Children. American Academy of Allergy & Immunology. Updated September 2020.

  5. Samarghandian S, Farkhondeh T, Samini F. Honey and health: a review of recent clinical researchPharmacognosy Res. 2017;9(2):121-127. doi: 10.4103/0974-8490.204647.