Probiotics for Infants
Probiotics are essential for a healthy digestive system and immune system. They also help fight off harmful bacteria and promote good bacteria. As a result, they help maintain a healthy digestive system, affecting many body functions, including weight management, mental health, immune response, and even aging. But what about babies?
Probiotics can be an essential part of their health, too. Baby's gut has not had time to develop its natural balance of good and bad bacteria. They need the help of probiotic supplements. They need probiotics to build up their immune system and protect them from illness.
There's no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to the best dosage or type of probiotic for a baby, but there is some information that will help you make the right decision.
Why might an infant need additional probiotics?
An infant's digestive system is delicate, and things like antibiotic medication can destroy the good bacteria in their gut. As a result, an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in their gut may occur and may lead to several conditions like:
- Allergies and asthma
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Upper respiratory infection
- Infant colic
These conditions can be remedied and prevented by probiotics.
Are infant probiotics safe?
Despite very few studies that focus on the safety of probiotics, there is extensive evidence to prove that probiotics are indeed safe for use. They are a natural part of our diet, after all. They are found naturally in dairy products like kefir, yogurt, fermented vegetables like pickles, and drinks like kombucha.
When buying probiotics, consider buying them in supplemental form, usually packaged as a powder, capsule, or drop. Choose a brand you can trust and that offers the specific strain of bacteria you prefer. You should also pay attention to any storage instructions when ordering supplements, as some need to be kept cold.
Probiotic strains for infants
- infantis: B. infantis is most prevalent in infants. It supports digestion and overall health. It may also help reduce inflammation and support immune function.
- Bifidum: This strain aids digestion and nutrient absorption. It's beneficial for diarrhea, constipation, and skin conditions like yeast infection and eczema.
- Reuteri: One study found that 6 to 36 months old children had nearly 1/3 lesser diarrhea cases and ½ more respiratory infections.
Choosing the right probiotics for an infant
- Give your baby probiotic supplements. Probiotics are often added to a baby's milk. Most supplements are tasteless and blend easily into breastmilk or formula. After preparing the formula or milk, it is best to add the probiotic supplement, as the heat will likely kill off the good bacteria if added beforehand.
- Use a probiotic-enriched formula if formula-feeding. Except for HiPP UK, all HiPP formulas contain probiotics. HiPP uses a strain of bacteria called fermentum, which is found naturally in the human mouth, gut, and vaginal tract.
- Give them probiotic-rich food by 6 months old. Fermented foods are great for babies and toddlers. Pasteurized yogurt, kefir, and any baby food advertised as having probiotics are safe options. Occasionally, families give older children raw sauerkraut or kimchi following a consultation with their pediatrician.
Human gut bacteria play a vital role in immunity and overall health. It starts at birth, and it continues through infancy, childhood, and beyond!
Our role as parents is to give our children probiotics and encourage them to lead a healthy lifestyle that will allow them to acquire beneficial gut bacteria.