Honey, I poisoned the kids…

Honey, I poisoned the kids…

Official advice not to feed ‘molten gold’ to infants is ludicrous, writes Bee Wilson
(article published in www.guardian.co.uk)


‘Unsuitable for infants under 12 months.” Almost every jar of honey now comes with this stark warning, with no explanation as to why. Likewise, the Food Standards Agency strongly advises against giving honey in any form to under-ones.



Honey has become a scary food for modern parents. I know of one father who suffered a panic attack after mistakenly giving his 11-month-old daughter a fruit smoothie containing a tiny dab of honey. Yet the risks are not as obvious as the labels suggest. And the history behind the warning is both ambiguous and full of irony.


It was only in 1978 that honey became a forbidden food for infants. Two years earlier, a very rare syndrome called infant botulism had been diagnosed for the first time, after some sick babies in California were found to have traces of botulism spores in their stools. Then, in 1978, an epidemiological study was done by the California Department of Health Services, which tested more than 550 samples of food, drugs and miscellaneous environmental substances for botulism. They found botulism organisms in five samples of soil, one of dust from a vacuum cleaner and nine of honey. Immediately, honey became an official danger for infants, because it was the only variable in infant botulism that could be controlled. You can’t put a label on soil saying “do not eat”; but with honey, you can.


This universal warning, however, makes the risks for infants in eating honey seem much greater than they are. The very word “botulism” is terrifying, summoning to mind either bio-terrorism or that classic 1930s detective novel, Malice Aforethought, where murder is committed by smearing botulism on some meat paste sandwiches. But that is adult botulism, not infant botulism. Although they are caused by the same Clostridium botulinum spores, the two illnesses have widely differing effects.


Food-borne adult botulism occurs when preformed toxins enter the system in food. Hours after the contaminated food is eaten, the patient will have difficulty with walking and swallowing. Their muscles may become paralysed. In up to two-thirds of cases, patients will die. Infant botulism, while still nasty, is much less extreme. The baby consumes botulism spores which in themselves are not harmful, only becoming toxic in immature intestines. (If an older child ate the same spores, they would be fine). As many as 30 days after ingesting the botulism, he or she will become constipated and listless, unable to suck as strongly or to cry as loudly as usual – all the symptoms of “floppy infant syndrome”. If taken to hospital in good time, the odds are strongly in favour of them recovering. The mortality rate is about 1.3%.


Obviously, when you are an anxious parent, the mere phrase “mortality rate” is frightening, but the current advice on babies and honey does seem over-cautious. For one thing, botulism almost exclusively affects those under six months, who, on current advice, shouldn’t be consuming anything other than milk. Epidemiological evidence suggests that both honey and soil from California have higher incidence of botulinum spores than elsewhere; and even in California only 10-13% of honey samples do contain botulinum spores. In the UK, there have only ever been six cases of infant botulism, none of which implicated British honey. In the most recent case, in 2001, contaminated formula milk was to blame. You can see why beekeepers might feel a bit disgruntled.


In other words, there is something slightly crazy about the blanket warning against honey as a baby food in a world which sees little wrong in feeding babies rusks thick with vegetable oil and yoghurts laced with sugar. There is also an irony in our current view that honey is unsuitable for infants, given that for most of human history, honey was seen as the most suitable food for newborns, after milk. As it says in Isaiah 7, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.”


In countless cultures, from ancient Egypt to modern Burma, babies have been given a little taste of this “molten gold” after they are born, not just for energy but to offer spiritual protection. In ancient Friesland in Germany it was believed that smearing honey on a child’s lips was what made it fully alive. Less superstitiously, in the 1930s a number of doctors in Finland and the US published studies demonstrating the benefits of honey to under-ones, since it was more easily digested than refined sugar. During the US Depression, honey was used by public health officials to bring undernourished infants in New Jersey back from the grave – half a teaspoon at first, then a little more and a little more, until their emaciated bodies recovered strength.


To our ancestors, it would have been unimaginable that honey for infants should change from being the kiss of life to the kiss of death.


· Bee Wilson is author of The Hive: the story of the honeybee and us (John Murray).

Variety is the Spice of Life – And the Key to Successful Weaning!

Variety is the Spice of Life – And the Key to Successful Weaning!

Wean Meister is a firm believer that babies should be exposed to a high variety of tastes if they are to become good and happy eaters.

If you give your baby a range of flavors from a young age they will be more likely to enjoy new tastes as they get older and will be much less likely to become fussy eaters. Then of course, you are able to be confident that your child is getting everything s/he needs nutritionally.
Below we outline what to expect from your baby as their palette develops.


From 6 Months to One Year
At this time babies are very open to try new food and tastes. After only drinking milk for the first 6 months of their life, they seem to enjoy the adventure of trying new flavours. Meal times can be exciting and babies quickly learn to like the foods and become very trusting of the food you give them.
You should stimulate your baby’s curiosity about food with different colours and textures.
If your baby doesn’t take to a certain food straight away, stay calm and offer it again another day. You may need to try this numerous times, but as long as you don’t make a fuss; your child should come around in the end.
Try not to have too many distractions around – turn the T.V. off. Your baby is much more likely to eat well if they are not focused on anything else.
Don’t try and feed your baby solids after a big milk feed, you will be much more successful if they are a bit hungry. This also helps them to gradually want less milk.

10 months onwards…
Your baby will nearly be eating the same foods as you now. So bridge the gap between baby food and grown up food by increasing the flavours you offer your baby. Think carefully about flavour and consider what tastes you might like.
It’s a nice age to let them start feeding themselves, particularly with finger food. You could start giving them food on a plastic plate so they begin to recognise what is in front of them.


12 months onwards…
It’s not uncommon for babies around 12 months to start becoming suspicious of new foods. Some people say it stems from a survival mechanism from the cave man days, to stop you’re baby from picking up something poisonous as they are now on the move. Or it may just be because the gap between eating mushy baby food and complex grown up food was too quick and they need to learn about new flavours and textures a bit longer. Perhaps they have become used to pre-made baby food jars, which have a more bland taste than normal food. This is another good reason to prepare your baby homemade food where ever possible.
If your toddler becomes fussy all of a sudden, the most important thing you can do is stay calm about it. Keep offering plenty of variety and then you can be confident that they are getting plenty of good nutrients.

So what is BPA and what is all the fuss?

So what is BPA and what is all the fuss?

I was as confused as the next person about this “BPA” which suddenly seems to be in all our babies products.  As a Mum I was slightly concerned.  What is BPA?  And is it really a danger to my child?
So I decided to find out and below is a summary of the facts.  Naturally, most parents want to be aware of potential dangers to their children.

Bisphnol A (BPA) is basically a chemical that can be found in many types of plastics.
It has actually been suspected of being potentially hazardous to humans since 1930’s.  But has only really been in the media a lot since 2008, when many governments released reports questioning its safety.

Regulatory bodies have set ‘safe levels’ for humans.  Although these ‘safe levels’ are now under scrutiny.  It was concluded by experts in the U.S. that there was concern about infant’s brain development and their future fertility.

There are still many tests being carried out and further effects of BPA on foetuses, infants and children is likely to be released in the future.
Possible side effects include a range of things:  lack of concentration, hyperactivity, disrupted thyroid, breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, colonic inflammation, obesity.

So what exactly does this have to do with your baby?

Babies that are fed formula milk have a much higher exposure to BPA than breast fed babies, as BPA can leach from the plastic bottles and into the milk when being heated in the microwave.
When it comes to weaning, all infants are potentially at risk because the most commonly used material for baby feeding equipment is plastic.  When plastic is heated up, BPA is known to leach out of the plastic and into the food.
To avoid BPA consumption, you are better off not microwaving your baby’s food in a plastic bowl.  Dishwashers and harsh detergents can also increase the amount of BPA that can be leached from the plastics.
Luckily there alternatives to using plastic containing BPA;  you can use glass, silicone, or special BPA free plastics.  Just keep your eyes peeled for labels which state – BPA Free.

And what is being done about this?

The world is reacting in varying degrees to this fairly recent hype.
There is no widely accepted safe does.  Scientists cannot agree on the dangers of BPA at this time.  It is certainly being investigated further by many governments.
Canada is the first country to declare BPA as a hazardous substance.  Their Health Minister Tony Clement has now banned the import, sale and advertisement of bottles, cups and pacifiers that contain BPA.  Canadians argue that while bottle fed babies are within the said ‘safe limit’, the margins are not high enough.
Denmark has now joined Canada with their decision to ban BPA products for babies.
America is divided in its opinion about BPA; some states have already imposed a ban.  The U.S. government is currently spending $30,000,000 researching its effects.
While Australia and New Zealand’s Food Standards Authority is saying that the levels of BPA in baby bottles is low, when used properly.  The rest of the worlds concerns cannot be over looked.  Many Australian and New Zealand’s baby shops have taken it upon themselves to ban BPA products in their own stores.
At the end of the day, with your child’s future health at stake and other alternatives to BPA products easily available.  It’s a no brainer.  Why take the risk?

BPA free Storage Containers

BPA free Storage Containers

It is no wonder that many parents are now searching for BPA free storage containers as they are concerned about the possible effects BPA will have on their growing babies.
BPA is a chemical found in some plastics, when this is heated it causes the chemical to leech out into the baby’s food or milk. The effects of this are now being thoroughly researched but there are indications that BPA can cause developmental problems to child’s brains and hormonal systems. There are also concerns that BPA may also lead to infertility, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


Types of BPA Free Storage Containers


Apart from the bowl that you feed your baby from, you may need something to keep home-made food in the fridge or freezer. You may also need a container with a secure lid, so that you can take food in your bag on outings or for day care.
There are numerous BPA free storage solutions on the market, coming in a great variety of shapes and sizes to suit.


If you’re looking to Freeze Home-made baby Food


Freezer Pods are made from silicone and are free from BPA and other chemicals such as phthalates. They provide the ultimate convenience for freezing home-made baby food as the silicone is flexible, which makes the food so much easier to retrieve than the plastic alternatives and will never snap.
It is extremely sturdy, with extra support underneath and a clip on lid to ensure that food is not spilt in the freezer and they are easily stackable which saves space.
Each Pod contains 9 75ml portions, which provides 9 perfect meal sizes for baby, which saves you time and money every day.

Ice-Cube Trays


Ice-cube trays are often used in the early stages of weaning. But parents will usually become frustrated with the difficulty in retrieving frozen food from plastic and this often results in snapping and food cubes flying across the counter in all directions.
Also they do not have a lid, which makes for a very messy freezer, trying to balance them without spilling. By the time the child is 7 or 8 months you find you need a lot of fiddly ice-cube trays and this becomes a daily annoyance.


Plastic pots

As they grow older, some parents move onto freezing in plastic pots. Batch cooking home-made baby food will save you time and money as well as the biggest benefit, no additives or preservatives for your baby.
If you use plastic pots for batch cooking, you have to be prepared to have dozens of small pots and lids all around the kitchen, this means a lot of washing up and space in the cupboards.
With Freezer Pods you just need one pod and one lid for nine easy meals for baby. The silicone is bacteria resistant and extremely easy to wash by hand or in the dishwasher and after the weaning phase they can be reused in many other ways.



It’s always a good idea to write the contents and date on your frozen food, this can be tricky with plastic and sticky labels always fall off in the freezer. You can easily write on the smooth circles of a Freezer Pod lid with either permanent or ball point pen and this then washes off with hot soapy water for next time.
Freezer Pods are a great choice when it comes to BPA free storage containers. You may be surprised to find out about their recycling potential.
To learn more go to www.weanmeister.com.au

Do you know the importance of iron in your baby’s diet?

Do you know the importance of iron in your baby’s diet?

Do you know the importance of iron in your baby’s diet?


Your baby gets plenty of iron through their milk for the first 6 months. After that it is up to you to provide an iron enriched diet to keep your baby healthy.
Iron has many important roles within the body. It helps to produce red blood cells, which in turn help to pump oxygen around the body. It is also very important for brain and nerve development.
A baby who doesn’t get enough iron will most likely be pale and lack energy. It can even cause developmental delays and behavioral problems.
Because the growth in the first few years is so rapid, it stands to reason that they will need a higher dose of iron during this time of their life than any other time.


It is extremely common for babies and toddlers to get less iron than is ideal and fussy eaters are particularly at risk.
It doesn’t need to be a big deal. Any healthy and varied diet will provide enough iron easily.

There are two different types of iron, animal sources and non-animal sources. Animal sources are easier for the body to absorb. Vitamin C is a good supplement to help the body absorb the non-animal sources.
Animal Sources:
• red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb

• poultry, particularly the darker meat

• eggs

• oily fish, such as tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout and kippers.

Non-Animal Sources:
• fortified breakfast cereals and baby foods

• pulses and lentils, including baked beans for example

• most dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, watercress, sprouts and cabbage

• dried fruit such as raisins, dried apricots and dried figs.

Try to give your baby the above non-animal sources with foods rich in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, kiwi fruit, blackcurrants, strawberries and mango.
Iron and milk
Breast milk contains enough iron naturally and is easily absorbed by your baby’s body.
Formula milk contains non-animal iron, so it also contains vitamin C to help this to be absorbed.
Follow on formula has a higher dose of iron to meet your baby’s growing needs.
Cows milk does not have enough iron to meet your babies growing needs and is one of the reasons it is not recommended as a drink before your baby is over a year.
Follow-on formula has higher iron levels to meet your baby’s growing needs.
Cows’ milk does not contain enough iron for babies and is not suitable as a drink before 12 months.