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I visited a friend-of-the-family in hospital soon after they'd had their new baby. I was surprised to see a jar of honey by the bedside. I thought it was for the parents to have in Tea or on toast, but the father explained that it was customary in their family for the father to dip his finger in honey and put it in the newborns' mouth.

I'd not seen this before. Is it a common thing? ..and is it a good idea?

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3 Answers

up vote 31 down vote accepted

Honey shouldn't be given till the age of 1 year. It can contain spores of Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism. An adult's intestinal tract can prevent the growth of these spores, but in a baby the spores can grow and produce life-threatening toxins.

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Very true. Honey is one of the food items that is explicitly forbidden when starting your child on "solid" foods –  Beofett Apr 10 '11 at 18:49
    
Is this still true even with pasteurised honey? –  Jon Purdy Apr 11 '11 at 2:35
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Spores aren't killed by pasteurization. From the Wikipedia article: "The spores can survive in most environments and are very hard to kill. They can survive the temperature of boiling water at sea level" –  Anna Apr 11 '11 at 4:13
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"Occasionally, honey contains bacteria which can produce toxins in a baby’s intestines, leading to a very serious illness (infant botulism), so it’s best not to give your child honey until they’re one year old. Honey is a sugar, so avoiding it will also help prevent tooth decay."

Via the U.K. National Health Service.

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Tooth Decay, for baby teeth, is kind of a non-issue... keep those temporary teeth in good working order. Yeah... –  WernerCD Apr 11 '11 at 2:53
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@WernerCD I thought the same, but I guess a sugar habit is still worth avoiding ;) –  Jon Hadley Apr 11 '11 at 5:57
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... and even though milk teeth only last maybe 7 years, that's plenty of time for unpleasant visits to the dentist. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Apr 11 '11 at 7:32
    
Milk rot (and its accompanying halitosis) is really something to avoid in your kids' teeth. –  Darwy May 29 '11 at 21:23
    
@WernerCD - tooth decay is the third commonest cause for child hospitalization in the UK. There's absolutely no reason why a child should undergo painful risky medical treatment to have organs removed when simple brushing and avoidance of sugar would keep them healthy. –  DanBeale Aug 10 '11 at 20:04
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Yes it is very common in subcontinent and contrary to medical science, we have not seen any baby illness due to this.

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What subcontinent of what continent are you referring to? Who is "we" - your personal experience? –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Apr 3 '13 at 10:31
    
-1 Suggesting medical science is wrong because you, personally, have not witnessed any instances of a potential problem strikes me as potentially dangerous advice. –  Beofett Apr 3 '13 at 13:12
    
The term 'subcontinent' is typically used for India, Pakistan and Bangladesh region. –  user1451111 Apr 10 '13 at 13:15
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