As a parent, you want to give the best head-start for your baby. The nourishment provided to the baby right from the moment he or she is still in the tummy to being born, and onto to the first two years of their life goes a long way in determining his future health and wellbeing.
One of the best ways to give this headstart is by looking after your baby's gut health and that includes adding probiotics in your baby’s diet. Probiotics are living bacteria which when eaten provide benefits to the digestive system.
Infant Probiotics for Digestive Health
Probiotics are simply yeast or live bacteria that are found in our gut. There are good and harmful bacteria in our body and probiotics are the good ones. From the time your baby is born right to when they are two years old, babies have a typical strain of bacteria in their microbiome. This strain of bacteria to a large extent are what causes your baby to thrive.
Probiotics are found in foods such as yogurts and supplements which can be added to the baby’s diet. The gut holds up to 70% of our immune system and hence its wellbeing should not be disregarded.
Can Infant Probiotics Help for Constipation?
How probiotics work and support gut health is still the subject of many studies. What can’t be denied, however, is their benefit in promoting gut health. Typically, after a course of antibiotics, probiotics are prescribed or advised to regain and maintain the crucial balance between the good and bad bacteria.
Probiotics affect different babies differently. They all fall under two broad groups namely; Lactobacillus found in yogurt and Bifidobacterium found in some dairy products. Lactobacillus is beneficial in treating diarrhea and is good if your baby is lactose intolerant. Bifidobacterium is beneficial in treating symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Probiotics not only help in controlling diarrhea but also control the other end of the spectrum, which is constipation.
Constipation most often is a sign of dehydration. When our body is dehydrated during digestion the body draws-in water from the intestines, thus causing the stools to dry out. This interferes with absorbing and breaking down of the nutrients in the food, causing great discomfort. Probiotics help restore vital moisture and thus effectively aids digestion.
Top 5 Infant probiotic drops and powder
The following are the top five probiotic supplements popular amongst parents. However, you might want to check with your pediatrician to see if your child needs that.
Clinically proven to be the best support your baby’s gut health, this supplement is available in a powder form. It is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Ka Shing Foundation, among others, to make it easily accessible in the US and other countries.
2. Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic For Infants Powder
Ther-Biotic for infants powder provides intestinal, immune and metabolic support for your baby. It assures you of providing 5 Billion CFU(Colony Forming Units) to your baby in a single scoop. You can easily mix this into baby's milk at room temperature or their solid food if they're weaning.
3. Flora's Toddler's Probiotic Powder
The Flora Probiotic supplement is available in an easy to use powder that can be mixed into formula, breastmilk or any food that your baby likes. This is available in the same formulation for both infants and older babies, although the packaging may differ. It is a blend of seven essential enzymes which optimizes and aids digestion of all the elements of food such as carbohydrates and proteins.
4. Culterelle Probiotics Baby
How about a two in one? Probiotic that comes with Vitamin D.
Culturelle Probiotic drops for babies is gentle and safe for your baby’s digestive system. It supplements breast milk and formula with good bacteria and vitamin D. The drops can either mixed with food or injected directly into your baby’s mouth. It meets the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of providing 400IU of Vitamin D daily for developing strong bones.
5. BioGaia Drops for Constipation and Colic Relief
BioGaia is a gentle formulation for relieving babies stomach upsets. It is clinically proven to benefit babies and is very user friendly. A dosage of five drops with the provided dropper provides a hundred million live L. Reuteri probiotics, which is proven to relieve colic in fussy infants. Its non-GMO formulation is also free from dairy, peanuts, tree nuts and fish which makes it the ideal pick for vegetarians, those following a vegan lifestyle and babies allergic to certain kinds of food.
Dosage and Safety
Probiotics are present in foods such as juices, soy beverages and yogurts. It is available in supplements in the form of capsules, powders and liquid drops. The most common source of probiotics for babies is through yogurt and supplements in liquid drops or powders.
Probiotics don’t work in babies the same way they do in adults. You should do your research and talk to your baby’s pediatrician before starting your baby on probiotics. Probiotics are considered to be safe unless the baby has a compromised autoimmune system, cancer or is a premature infant. Since probiotics are live cultures, these may harm the baby and lead to serious infections. Generally, doctors advise parents to provide the probiotics derived from food but if you do prefer supplements then you should consult with your baby’s doctor.
Follow the dosage and frequency very carefully and keep an eye out for any adverse reactions. Check the nutritional information and labels before you use. Read and follow instructions very carefully. Some supplements may react adversely with antibiotics. Inform your baby’s pediatrician if your child is prescribed an antibiotic and check if it’s okay to use them with a probiotic. Leave a gap of at least two to three hours between the medication and ingestion of the probiotic.
Watch out for adverse reactions which may include, diarrhea, constipation, breathlessness, skin rashes and swelling of the face, throat and tongue. An unexplained high temperature or a persistent cough is also a warning sign if your baby has just started on a new probiotic supplement. Consult a doctor immediately if you see any of these signs.
As mentioned earlier, sixty to eighty percent of your baby’s immune system lies in his gut. It is crucial to maintain a healthy balance between the over a thousand species of the good and bad bacteria that live there.
Any disruption in that delicate balance, leaves your baby susceptible to inflammation and vulnerable to infections. These could be something as insignificant as skin rashes or more serious issues such as a chronic illness.
As a parent to your little one, you have the opportunity to ensure a healthy gut for your baby and set her up for a healthy life. It is as simple as providing her with the best probiotic you can find.