Can Babies Have Honey Nut Cheerios? (Mine Ate Some, Is That Okay?)

Honey Nut Cheerios may be given to children who are one year of age and older. Giving this cereal to infants may lead to botulism or early development of allergies. If you have been giving this cereal to an infant, stop immediately and switch to specially-marked infant cereals.

What’s in Honey Nut Cheerios?

The official Cheerios website has a complete list of the ingredients used to make Honey Nut Cheerios.

Ingredients

A bowl of honey nut cheerios on a kitchen table.

According to the product’s website, some of Honey Nut Cheerios’ list of ingredients include whole grain oats, sugar, oat bran, corn starch, honey, brown sugar syrup, salt, rice bran oil or canola oil, and natural almond flavor.

Vitamins and Minerals

The site mentions that this cereal contains calcium, zinc, iron and vitamins (A, B complex, C, and D3).

When can I give Honey Nut Cheerios to my child?

Not yet for newborns and infants

Newborns and infants less than 6 months of age are definitely not allowed to eat Honey Nut Cheerios, or any cereal for that matter.

Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) advise exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life.

Although breastmilk is preferred, safe and approved infant formulas are an alternative. Newborns and young infants will not need any other types of food.

Water and simple juices should also be avoided for this age group.

Breastmilk has a nearly 100% complete set of nutrients for your newborn, with infant formula close behind in that list. If you plan to give cereal because you are worried your child isn’t taking in enough milk, it’s best to speak with your pediatrician for sound advice.

Note that there are some exceptions to this rule. Premature babies who have difficulties with their swallowing reflex may have been given a mixture of milk and rice cereal while admitted at the neonatal intensive care unit.

A doctor’s decision to include this in a preemie’s diet is based on the unique medical characteristics of each child. Not all premature babies will need to take rice cereal, and not all premature babies will still need to take it after being discharged from the hospital.

Still a no for 6 to 11 months old babies

Once babies turn 6 months old, complementary feeding can be started (check out this link). This includes fruits, vegetables, iron-fortified cereals, grains, and meats.

On the other hand, the AAP advises to delay introducing these foods until they turn 1 year old:

Although Honey Nut Cheerios is an iron-fortified cereal, it can only be given to kids one year of age and older since it contains honey. Only give foods that are made for the specific age group your child is in.

For this situation, give only those specifically branded as infant cereals; their ingredients have been carefully selected based on an infant’s diet.

Why can’t babies eat honey anyway?

Honey on a table.

Honey can sometimes contain bacteria called Clostridium botulinum.

These organisms create spores, which release toxins. These toxins can cause infant botulism. Symptoms include muscle paralysis, which can reach respiratory muscles and cause difficulty breathing. In some cases, this could lead to death.

Infants don’t have a mature immune system like older children and adults do. This makes it difficult for them to fight off the toxins released by the bacteria and makes it easier for them to get sick.

Watch out for the nuts too!

The Cheerios website also mentions that ingredients made from almonds have been used to make Honey Nut Cheerios.

Mom is checking her infant son's temperature, after feeling that he was slightly warmer than usual.

Nuts are off-limits until a child turns 4 to 6 months old. If this is given earlier than 4 months of age, a baby’s immature immune system might mistake nuts as something foreign that must be immediately removed from the body.

This leads to rashes, redness, difficulty breathing, and swelling that are hallmarks of an allergic reaction.

FAQs

I already gave some Honey Nut Cheerios to my child. What’s the next step?

At this point, it’s more of a “wait and observe first” situation. You should definitely stop giving any more of the cereal. Watch out for body weakness, floppiness, weak cries, a slow feeding time, decreased or loss of facial expressions, or constipation. If any of these symptoms happen, bring your child to the nearest hospital or healthcare provider.

My baby developed infant botulism. Does he need to be hospitalized?

Since these are young children, more often than not, they need to be admitted to a hospital for supportive treatment and further observation. An antitoxin may be given through an IV line. If your child has difficulty breathing, they may be fitted with oxygen support and temporarily fed through tubes or IV lines. 

Conclusion

Honey Nut Cheerios may be loaded with healthy ingredients, vitamins and minerals, but this should be given only to children who are at least 12 months old.

This cereal contains almonds and honey, which may cause mild to severe medical conditions, such as allergies and infant botulism.

If you have been giving this cereal to an infant, stop immediately and switch to specially-marked infant cereals. If you are concerned for your child’s safety, it’s always better to seek consultation with a physician.

Sarah is a healthcare writer, motivated by her love of reading books while growing up. She took up human biology and further studies in medicine, in order to fulfill her passion for helping kids. While she isn't a biological mother yet, she has taken two young dogs, named Indy and Obi-Wan, under her wing. She would love to someday travel the world and meet kids from different cultural backgrounds.

Leave a Comment