With approximately 70% of the body’s immune system residing in the gut, it makes sense to take care of your baby’s gut health from the very first day. (1) Babies receive much of their gut flora from their mothers—when they are in the womb, when they pass through the birth canal during vaginal birth, and after that, via breastfeeding. However, the good bacteria they receive is directly connected to the health and quality of the gut bacteria that their mothers have.
The balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut must be maintained for optimal functioning of your child’s immune system and gut health.
Recent studies also suggest the existence of a robust brain-gut axis which means that the microbes in the gut interact directly with the brain and cause changes in brain chemistry. (2)
In today’s world, our guts are affected by all the processed food we eat. With this in mind, the truth is that your baby’s gut requires all the help it can get. The most recommended way to support your baby’s wellness and body balance is by ensuring they consume a probiotic supplement or fermented foods (ideally both!). An influx of friendly bacteria helps to repopulate your baby’s gut microbiome.
In this post, we’ll review everything you need to know about the best probiotics for babies, including what probiotics are, why they are safe and needed for babies, the benefits, where to find them, the best strains for infant health, and how to choose the right probiotic supplement for your child.
What are Probiotics?
When you think about bacteria, the general consensus is that bacteria cause infections and are, therefore, not good for your health. However, not all bacteria are created equal.
There are a select number of strains which are incredibly healthy and life-sustaining. These are the friendly bacteria that your baby’s gut needs to thrive, also known as probiotics.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) defines probiotics as supplements that contain microflora-changing organisms. (3) Mainly of species like Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus, these probiotics aid in the proliferation of a healthy microbiome in an individual by colonizing the gut. By working alongside microorganisms that are already present in the gut, probiotics aid your immune system in fighting off invading illness-causing organisms and supply a range of health benefits for the host.
While babies are born with a sterile gut, their microbiome rapidly develops as it picks good bacteria at the time of descending through the vaginal canal, from breastmilk, and eventually, from the solid food they eat. By adulthood, the gut is home to over 400 species of all kinds of bacteria. When born, the PH of their stomach is different than adults and meant to be hospitable to friendly bacteria until they reach the age of 3. The balance of friendly and other bacteria exposures during this time is what dictates your child’s overall health.
These friendly bacteria help infants and children digest the food they eat and extract maximum nutrition form this food, as well as help boost your child’s immune system, and help your baby steer clear of several common illnesses.
Do Babies Need Probiotics, and Are They Safe for Infants?
Often, parents assume that only older kids and adults benefit from probiotics. However, research shows that this is far from the truth. In a perfect world, mothers would possess an optimally healthy microbiome that they would pass on to their kids during birth and breastfeeding. Unfortunately, the last century has been anything but utopic. Our bodies are subjected to sugary foods, starchy diets, processed items, GMOs, antibiotics, and a number of other elements that result in degraded gut flora. This means that your child receives a microbiome that needs a little help to function optimally.
An unhealthy microbiome leads to a number of diseases, illnesses, and a weak immune system as your baby grows. According to a National Health Interview Survey probiotics have become the third highest natural product used by children. (4)
In addition to the need for supporting the microbiome, there are some specific situations where probiotics are even more vital for babies.
- Babies born via Cesarean deliveries do not get the generous dollop of good gut microbes from the mother’s birth canal that babies born through vaginal birth do. That means they especially can use the help that probiotics offer.
- Babies who have been put on any course of antibiotics need probiotics to help their weakened digestive system work well. This also includes infants suffering from GERD, diarrhea, constipation, or other digestive issues.
- Formula-fed babies miss out on the probiotics transferred via their mother’s breast milk. Even breastfed babies can only get probiotics that their mother’s gut already possesses. In both cases, probiotics can help a baby’s gut function better.
Not only are probiotics safe for infants, but research shows that probiotics derived from food or supplements can have a positive effect on your child’s health and wellbeing by boosting their gut’s bacteria balance. Since they have natural components, probiotics are considered safe for infants and toddlers.
What are the Benefits of Probiotics for Babies?
An imbalanced gut microbiome causes a number of issues such as digestive problems, weakened immune system, bad mood, skin conditions, and baby eczema, to name a few. Babies are also susceptible to issues like reflux and dyspepsia.
Reduces & Treats Digestive Issues
When probiotics are given to babies regularly, studies show that they can also help improve bowel movements and keep digestive ailments like constipation and diarrhea at bay.
Studies suggest that probiotics help treat digestive conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and gastroenteritis diarrhea. (5)
A JAMA Pediatrics study postulates that infants who are given probiotics within the first three months of birth have a better chance of sidestepping issues like colic, acid reflux, and constipation. (6)
Reduces Allergies & Skin Conditions
When consumed by pregnant or breastfeeding mothers or given as part of a daily diet, probiotics may help reduce the risk of infants developing allergies and skin conditions like eczema, diaper thrush or rash, and oral thrush.
Studies also suggest that probiotics help prevent upper respiratory tract infections in infants and children.
Helps Ease Gas & Colic
Most new parents find themselves staying up with a fussy baby wondering what to do when their baby has gas. The long-term answer to getting rid of gassiness is probiotics, and research shows that probiotics might help ease infant conditions like colic. (7)
Boosts Immune System
Probiotics help boost the immune system and has been shown to help babies with low birthweight gain weight faster. Regular use of probiotics helps reduce the chances of getting gut infections.
Assists in Vitamin Synthesis
Probiotics also aid the health of intestinal bacteria that produce vital nutrients like Vitamin B, thereby, assisting in vitamin synthesis.
Where are Probiotics Found?
As mentioned earlier, probiotics are naturally-occurring live bacteria in the gut. Lifestyle factors, antibiotic use, and poor diet, all cause the number and quality of the species of good bacteria in the body to dwindle.
If you are looking for probiotic food items, fermented food items like yogurt, cheddar and Gouda cheeses, buttermilk, and kefir, sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi are just a few nutrient-rich foods that also contain probiotics.
While buying any of these products, ensure that they contain live and active probiotic cultures. Also, keep in mind, specific strains of probiotics offer specific benefits to the consumer. When you feed your children food items that contain probiotics, you might not be able to ascertain exactly what kind of probiotics and in what quantity are present in the food.
Probiotic supplements, on the other hand, contain a generous amount of colony-forming units that can help repopulate the gut and give you a much better understanding of the types and amounts of probiotics that your children are consuming. Supplements can be found in the form of powders, liquids, capsules, and tablets.
The Best Strains of Probiotics for Babies
High-quality probiotic supplements contain numerous strains of probiotics which play an important role in gut health. Some probiotic strains work better than others, and each one offers distinct benefits to your baby. If you are looking for a suitable probiotic supplement for your baby, the top strains that are beneficial to your baby’s body, growth, and development are listed below.
An important microbe that has been linked to nutrient absorption and proper digestion, Bifidobacterium bifidum is among the first strains to colonize the gut. It is usually found near the intestinal walls and is known to defend against potential infant health issues such as eczema, diarrhea, constipation, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Perhaps one of the most beneficial probiotic strains for infants and young children. Various studies have found that Lactobacillus reuteri can reduce the instances of diarrhea in children, help reduce/treat colic in babies, and also curb respiratory disorders and tooth decay. (8)
This gut microbe strain is most predominant in babies, hence the name Bifidobacterium infantis. (9) As your babies grow, the prevalence of this microbe decreases. Some of this strain’s benefits include reducing inflammation and supporting digestion and immune function.
The Best Probiotic Supplements for Babies
When it comes to choosing a probiotic supplement for your baby the options can seem endless. Our line of probiotics for babies was developed by a team of internationally renowned scientists and doctors that continuously research various probiotic strains and how they can be made even more effective.
Each LoveBug Probiotic for babies delivers a blend of probiotic strains that are tailor-made to fit your baby’s gut health needs and features our patented and effective BIO-tract delivery technology. With our BIO-tract delivery system, our probiotics have 15x more survivability than leading probiotic brands available today.
Your child requires different nutrients and gut health support based on which stage of growth they are in. We’ve developed a range of probiotic supplements for your baby, safe to take from the moment of birth.
Tiny Tummies (0-6 months)
The first couple of months of your child’s life are crucial for their physical and mental development. Our Tiny Tummies (0-6 months) probiotics, gives them the jumpstart that they need for maintaining the balance of healthy gut flora. When you give your child probiotics you support their immune system by introducing good gut bacteria from day one. This particular supplement contains three different strains of lactobacillus, and each dose of Tiny Tummies (0-6 months) has 1 billion active cultures. It is also very easy to feed this supplement to your babies – just open a packet and mix it into your infant’s bottle.
Tiny Tummies (6-12 months)
The amount of change that a baby goes through before hitting one-year-old is exceptional. The digestive and immune system of your baby is still developing, which is why it is a good idea to support whole-body wellness and gut health with a probiotic supplement for babies. Our Tiny Tummies (6-12 months) contains 4 billion active cultures in every dose and uses our patented BIO-tract technology to ensure optimal delivery to your child’s gut. With 5 strains of Lactobacillus, this product is specially formulated for this age group. Because it is flavorless, you can mix it in any food and give it to your babies. There is no need to be worried about allergies because it is gluten-free, non-GMO, dairy-free and has no allergens.
Tiny Tummies (12 months – 4 years)
As your child becomes more mobile supporting good gut health is even more vital. Create a good foundation for the gut flora of your child by giving them probiotics during this age. Tiny Tummies (12 months – 4 years) contains 8 different strains of Lactobacillus (including Lactobacillus GG) and each dose has up to 15 billion active cultures in it. These sugar-free, allergy-free and gluten-free probiotics have no flavor, which makes them easy to feed to even the most finicky eater by stealthily mixing it with other foods.
Give Your Child the Gift of Lifelong Physical & Mental Well-being
What you feed your baby is of utmost importance. As a parent, you can help create a solid foundation for your little one’s health by focusing on what you eat while breastfeeding, what goes into your baby’s formula, and of course, what your child continues to eat once they move onto solids. One of the easiest ways to support your child’s gut as their digestive tract and gut microbiome mature is through adding a probiotic to their daily diet.
As mentioned, specific strains of probiotics offer specific benefits to infants and children. While getting a probiotic supplement for your little one, ensure that it contains child-friendly strains such as Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Lactobacillus plantarum. These strains are proven to be beneficial for children, especially when it comes to boosting their digestive system, preventing the development of allergies, and improving their immune system. Ensure that you choose supplements that are free of additives and allergens like GMOs, gluten, and sugar.
For more information about the best probiotics for babies explore our complete line of baby probiotics today.
- Vighi, G., F. Marcucci, L. Sensi, G. Di Cara, and F. Frati. “Allergy and the gastrointestinal system.” Clin Exp Immunol 153, no. 1 (2008): 3-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x.
- “The Brain-Gut Connection.” Johns Hopkins Medicine. Accessed February 22, 2019. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_body/the-brain-gut-connection.
- Armstrong, Carrie. “AAP Reports on Use of Probiotics and Prebiotics in Children.” Am Fam Physician 83, no. 7 (2011): 849-852. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2011/0401/p849.html.
- “Most Used Natural Products.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Last modified September 24, 2017. https://nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/NHIS/2012/natural-products/biotics#child-data.
- Ciorba, Matthew A. “A Gastroenterologist’s Guide to Probiotics.” Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology 10, no. 9 (2012): 960-968. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2012.03.024.
- Indrio, Flavia, Antonio Di Mauro, Giuseppe Riezzo, Elisa Civardi, Cristina Intini, Luigi Corvaglia, Elisa Ballardini, et al. “Prophylactic Use of a Probiotic in the Prevention of Colic, Regurgitation, and Functional Constipation.” JAMA Pediatrics 168, no. 3 (2014): 228-233. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4367.
- Koonce, Thomas, Anne Mounsey, and Kate Rowland. “Colicky baby? Here’s a surprising remedy.” J Fam Pract 60, no. 1 (2011): 34–36. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3183958/.
- Savino, F, E Pelle, E Palumeri, R Oggero, and R Miniero. “Lactobacillus reuteri (American type culture collection strain 55 730) versus simethicone in the treatment of infantile colic: a prospective randomized study.” Pediatrics 119, no. 1 (2007): 124–130. doi: 10.1542/peds.2006-1222.
- Groeger, D, L O’Mahony, EF Murphy, JF Bourke, TG Dinan, B Kiely, F Shanahan, et al. “Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 modulates host inflammatory processes beyond the gut.” Gut Microbes 4, no. 4 (2013): 325-39. doi: 10.4161/gmic.25487.