I was getting tea today and noticed those cute little honey packets made by Heinz. At the bottom of the packet it says: DO NOT FEED TO CHILDREN UNDER 12 MONTHS OLD - why?
Honey is not recommended at all for babies under one year of age because of the risk of infant botulism. The risk isn't big, but if it happens, it can be life-threatening. Avoiding honey until the child is older is an easy way to prevent this.
To protect your baby from infant botulism:
- Don't offer honey. Wild honey is a potential source of C. botulinum spores. Avoid giving honey — even a tiny taste — to babies under the age of 1 year
Source: Mayo Clinic
Botulism spores are one of the very few things that can survive in honey, and even then, they can only do it by becoming totally inactive. In an adult, stomach acid will destroy those spores, and normal gut microbes will eliminate any that survive to reach the small intestine
An infant's stomach isn't acidic enough to do the job, and their intestinal microflora haven't fully developed yet. Because of this, it's possible for those spores to become active in the small intestine, leading to infant botulism.
(Adult botulism is caused when botulism bacteria grow in improperly-preserved food, producing botulism toxin. Cooking kills the bacteria, but does not destroy the toxin.)