This is a sponsored post on behalf of Red Bee and the CT Bloggers Collective. All opinions remain 100% my own. Read on to learn important facts about honey for toddlers – benefits and cautions, as well as the tremendous health and wellness benefits of honey for the whole family.
The cold this winter has been beyond brutal. The extreme cold outdoors, combined with the constant running heat indoors has left the whole family with a dry cough none of us can seem to kick. And for my youngest, still a toddler, he isn’t even allowed to have OTC cough syrup yet… so I turned away from the medicine cabinet and to the pantry instead. Honey for toddlers benefits their health and wellness tremendously… as do all bee products.
10 Things to Know About Honey for Your Family’s Health
Like so many of you, I grew up eating honey out of a little bear squeeze bottle. My mom would squeeze it into hot tea when my throat needed soothing, or drizzle it over warm cornbread as a fun southern treat. When I had kids of my own, it was on that watch list of foods you shouldn’t give children before 1… so I treated it with some trepediation. But last weekend, I had the pleasure of touring the Red Bee Apiary (a bee farm) in Weston, CT and meeting Marina Marchese, a veteran beekeeper of more than 20 years who is also certified in apitherapy, the ancient practice of using bee products – from honey and beeswax to bee venom – to treat specific body conditions and support health. After spending an afternoon learning from her, I definitely plan to make honey a more prominent part of my toddler’s diet, along with the rest of my family.
Honey for Toddlers – Benefits for Health and Diet
Honey has been a prized food (and medicinal agent) for thousands of years, appearing in historical texts dating back to as early as 3000 BC. Raw honey has a long list of health and dietary benefits. Its natural acidity, and low moisture content eliminate any need for additional preservatives. As a predigested sweetener (and the natural carbohydrate of bees), it is easily digested and an excellent energy source for the human body – especially your growing toddler.
Honey as a Healthy Sweetener
In the US, we have a serious sweet tooth. White sugar, the overprocessed end result of sugar cane stripped of all its nutrients, is now among the top three ingredients in nearly all packaged foods. It contains very little nutritional value, promotes the growth of bacteria that cause disease, and seems to trigger swings in mood and energy levels. Anyone who has ever seen their toddler on sugar and the crash that follows can attest to this!
Real honey is different. Honey is a pure, natural product that is not refined. It is naturally sweet, made from the nectar of flowers, containing carbohydrates and water, but also full of amino acids, vitamins and minerals. As a natural sugar, your body converts it to energy more efficiently than white sugar, and it will not make your blood sugar spike as rapidly as processed sugars. So hold the syrup at breakfast, and try topping your toddler’s pancakes with honey instead. It can also be substituted for sugar in beverages and baked goods.
Honey as a Cold Remedy
Most OTC cold and cough medicines explicitly indicate they cannot be used for children under 4, or even 6. But honey for toddlers benefits not only their diet, it can also be a natural remedy for symptoms of cold and flu. A spoonful of honey coats their throat and offers instant relief.
Honey as an Immunity Builder
If you buy and consume raw honey local to your area, it can also build natural immunity to allergens. Made from the nectar of local flora, and containing partilces of pollen from the area, your body begins the process of naturally desensitizing itself to the dusts, mold and pollen in the air. So if your toddler suffers from seasonal allergies, consider adding local honey to their diet.
Honey for Sinus Pressure
Honeycomb or raw liquid honey can also alleivate sinus pressure. See these 14 methods for using honey to treat all aspects of sinus infections. When ingested, it can alleviate sinus pressure quickly due to its anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-septic properties, as well as its ability to reduce inflammation. So if your toddler shies away from the Nosefrida or can’t blow their nose, serve them a spoonful of honey to help clear their sinuses.
Honey as an Ointment
Honey’s antibacterial and antiseptic properties also make it an excellent as a skin ointment. It keeps external wounds, like cuts and minor burns, free from infection and can help minimize scarring. A nurse at our honey tasting even said they use medical-grade honey at her hospital to treat surgical wounds. Try it the next time your toddler skins their knee.
Honey for Digestion
Honey as been used as a mild laxative as far back as the ancient Romans. It is believed to destroy certain gut bacteria, making it an effective treatment for upset stomach, gas, indigestion, diarrhea, stomach ulcers and constipation. One more great reason to add honey to your toddler’s diet.
A Few More Facts About Honey and Other Bee Products
Honey is only one of many products produced by bees in their hive… and all those products have tremendous health benefits for your whole family. But before we talk about those, let’s be clear about what honey, especially the honey that contains all these amazing benefits, actually is.
What is Raw Honey?
Netflix has a new series out called Rotten. It explores the contamination of our food supply and the big business of food and agriculture in our global society… and the first episode is all about honey. Spoiler alert: not all honey is created equal. In the US, the demand for honey dramatically outpaces the domestic supply, and large quantities of honey are imported.
Honey from some countries is banned due to their use of lethal to human antibiotics on their bees (and this was the subject of one the largest fraud cases in our country’s history). The honey that is imported is often filtered for clarity, pasteurized and homogenized for consistency in taste and to delay any crystallization, but also destroying nutrients, beneficial enzymes and flavor. Large producers may also add water and sweeteners to increase supply and maintain taste profiles. This is commonly what you find in those honey bear squeeze bottles we all grew up calling honey.
Raw honey is honey straight from the honeycomb. Raw honey may be more prone to crystallize – this does not mean it has gone bad or spoiled. It can easily be returned to its golden, liquid state by placing the jar in a cup of warm water.
Variations in Local Honey
Bees can travel a range of about 4 miles, and the nectar they collect in that radius can influence their honey – the pollen particles it contains, its color, flavor and even nutrients. At my tasting at Red Bee, we sampled different honeys, each with a distinct color and flavor profile. To create these honeys, bee hives must be located in areas of dense acreage (i.e. Florida citrust groves). Most local honeys are otherwise considered Wildflower Honey.
- Orange Blossom – more floral, Vitamin C benefits, sourced from Florida
- Blueberry – more musky, darker in color, less sweet and more fruity, antioxidant benefits
- Buckwheat – dark like molasses, iron-rich, common in New York and Michigan
- Clover – lightest in color, flavor, from North Dakota
Other Bee Products to Try
Beyond honey, there are several other bee products with health benefits worth trying. Bee pollen are brightly colored little yellow balls created from the pollen bees collect, then mix with nectar and their own enzymes. It is their source of protein. It has been called nature’s most complete food: a complete source of protein minerals, vitamins and fatty acids. It is said to regulate blood pressure and cholesterol, sustain energy, and decrease hayfever. You can sprinkle it on cereals and yogurt or add it to smoothies.
Another more well known bee product? Beeswax. The honeycombs bees create can be used for multiple years for harvesting honey, before then being used to create candles or melted down to create balms.
Honey for Toddlers – A Word of Caution
If honey is so good for us, then why are we all warned not to feed honey to babies under 1 year old? Honey can contain bacteria spores which, in a baby’s immature digestive system, may germinate and lead to infant botulism, a very rare but potentially fatal illness. In older children and adults, microorganisms in mature digestive systems do not allow the spores to grow, rendering them harmless. If you or your child is immune compromised or under 1 year of age, do not feed them honey.
Learn More about Honey and Beekeeping
Marina Marchese is a local beekeeper here in Conneticut at Red Bee Apiary. She is also the author of Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper. I had the immense pleasure of spending an afternoon in her barn tasting a variety of raw honeys from around the United States, as well as learning from her firsthand.
If you are local, be sure to stop in to Red Bee – say hello to Marina, tour her beautiful barn and apiary, and shop from her elegantly curated collection of honey from around the country, as well as countless bee products, including bee pollen, beeswax candles, personal care products and more. She also runs regular classes for making personal care products from honey and beeswax, as well as honey tastings and apiary tours. Visit Red Bee online or follow Red Bee on Instagram to stay up to date on their latest events.
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