We know that raw honey has more benefits than regular honey, but Is Raw Honey safe for Children? Let’s find out when kids can have raw honey & its benefits.
Honey is something every home in India has, and while this is not very surprising, it is interesting to note that the purpose of keeping honey is multifold. We keep honey at home for several purposes – culinary uses, beauty treatments as well as medicine!
This multipurpose use of honey isn’t anything new. Honey has been used for over 8 centuries starting in Egypt, India, Rome and Greece and now moving on to other countries. Honey was often used as a first food for infants, and was also considered a way to help underweight babies.
However, since 1978 we’ve become aware of infant botulism and since then, honey has been avoided for babies under one. Yet, parents are sometimes fearful of giving honey to their children even over the age of one, particularly when it comes to raw honey. So today, we’ll tackle this important question:
Is Raw Honey safe for Children?
Let’s begin with why any kind of honey can’t be given to infants under the age of one. Honey contains certain spores which are not harmful as they are. However, when this honey enters the baby’s gut, the spores develop into bacteria that produce a toxin which causes botulism. Botulism is serious, and 70% of babies who get the illness require ventilation and an extended hospital stay.
According to the CDC, by the age of one, the stomach and digestive organs have developed well enough to kill the spores, so the risk of botulism is negligible. This applies to all kinds of honey, including raw and regular, as well as foods containing honey. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics still recommends putting off serving honey till the second birthday, since it is still a kind of added sugar, although natural.
After the age of 2, it is safe to offer kids raw honey, either on its own or baked or cooked in a dish. Some children may have pollen allergy, which can be a problem since raw honey contains bee pollen and bee propolis. To reduce any allergy risk, it is recommended to offer honey slowly and gradually. Once you’re sure your baby is comfortable digesting honey, you can go ahead and add honey to all her foods – raw honey has several health benefits for kids.
Health Benefits of Raw Honey for Kids
1. It improves digestion
Raw honey is a great food for improving kids’ digestion and for treating digestive issues. Raw honey is an excellent prebiotic, which helps to maintain a healthy gut. It also speeds up a sluggish digestion and helps in treating constipation. Raw honey can also prevent stomach ulcers and other issues like indigestion, bloating and flatulence.
2. It provides essential nutrients
Honey has an impressive nutritional profile consisting of most essential nutrients. Since kids are picky eaters, they often end up missing out on many of these, and honey helps fulfil this to some extent. Honey contains calcium, magnesium manganese, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, niacin and riboflavin, helping resolve nutritional deficiencies.
3. It is a source of antioxidants
Along with all the essential nutrients listed above, raw honey is also a rich source of antioxidants – something severely lacking in commercial or pasteurized honey. Raw honey contains bee pollen, bee propolis and other plant compounds that contain phytochemicals, flavonoids and ascorbic acid. These antioxidants build long term health, and prevent a range of illnesses ranging from inflammation to cancers.
4. It is a better alternative to white sugar
Sugar is everywhere – even in the most unsuspecting of places. We are well aware of the ill effects of white sugar or refined sugar, and honey acts as a great alternative. Raw honey has a lower GI value, which means that it doesn’t cause sudden spikes and falls in blood sugar. This helps prevent diabetes and ensures a steady flow of energy for kids.
5. It treats coughs
We’ve all grown up having honey to treat a common cough and this is why honey is a part of various Ayurvedic medicines. Honey has anti microbial properties and can soothe a dry, irritated throat. It coats the throat and helps children sleep better when they are ill, especially with a nighttime cough.
6. It boosts immunity
Immunity is something that is prized very much these days, and we’re all trying to ensure we stay healthy to avoid unnecessary trips to clinics and hospitals. Raw honey has innate immunity-boosting properties and helps improves our defenses against common microorganisms.
7. It can treat diarrhea
Raw honey can improve digestive function and help with constipation, but it can also work the other way as a home remedy for diarrhea. Studies have found that honey hastens the recovery process by slowing bowel movements. It is also a more palatable option for children than other OTC medicines.
8. Relieves gastric reflux
Acid reflux or GERD is common in children these days, especially since they are stuck at home and have limited activity. Raw honey is a great way to relieve this, since it lines the esophagus and stimulates the sphincter tissues preventing the gastric acids from moving upwards.
It is important to remember that all these benefits only apply in the case of raw honey. Commercial or processed honey is heated, which makes it look better but destroys the nutrients in it, especially the various plant enzymes and antioxidants. At the same time, the pasteurizing process does not kill the botulism spores, so it is still unsafe for babies under the age of one.
Healthy Recipes with Honey for Kids
- Healing Turmeric Tea
- Strawberry Lassi
- Golden Latte
- Kerala Banana Dates Milkshake
- Watermelon Lemonade
- Homemade Cough Drops
- Maize Flakes with Milk and Honey
- Honey Oats Multigrain Porridge
- Choco Dates Smoothie Bowl
- Chocolate Muesli Recipe
- Chocolate Trail Mix
- Frozen Yogurt Bark
- Yogurt Fruit Parfait
- Tricolor Fruit Parfait
- Chocolate Yogurt Parfait
- Chocolate Multigrain Popsicles
- Honey Mango Popsicles
- Nutri Mix Popsicles
- Sugar Free Fruit Custard
- Pistachio Raisin Coconut Cookies
- Almond Shortbread Cookies
- Fudgy Cocoa Brownies
Besides these recipes, there are many ways you can include raw honey in your child’s diet. Use it instead of sugar to sweeten milk, milkshakes or batter. It can be used as a dip or as a spread for toast or pancakes.