As probiotics become more widely known and used, mothers often ask if it’s a good idea to give babies probiotics. There has been a lot of research into this very question and the short answer is yes. Pediatricians across the country recognize the value in giving probiotics to babies; particularly in certain situations and circumstances. Here’s why probiotics are good for babies.
Premature Babies Benefit From Probiotics
Mark Underwood, professor of pediatrics and chief of Pediatric Neonatology at UC Davis in California reports that preemies can certainly benefit from probiotics. Premature babies are vulnerable to a terrible intestinal inflammation called Necrotizing enterocolitis. "If we give a probiotic, a premature baby's chance of getting Necrotizing enterocolitis goes down," explains Professor Underwood.
Probiotics are Good For Babies in General
In a study where half of the infant study participants were given probiotics and the other half weren’t, there was a 75% increase in the amount of bifidobacteria, a beneficial bacteria. To make matters even more exciting, the researchers found that there was a simultaneous decrease in harmful bacteria, such as clostridium. It should be noted that all of the babies in the study were breastfed and the babies were given probiotics during the first month of life.
Protection Against Diarrhea
Ah, that dreaded word. Almost every parent has experienced their baby having diarrhea. Diarrhea can happen unexpectedly and it can last for days. Ultimately, it’s is a sign of an unhealthy gut. It may be temporary, but things aren’t as they should be in your baby’s digestive system. Probiotics can help give added protection against diarrhea.
They can even be used as a treatment after diarrhea has started. Don’t forget that diarrhea has a very strong dehydrating effect in the body. It’s important to follow your pediatrician’s guidance and provide adequate hydration along with any kind of probiotic supplementation you choose to use.
Breastmilk is a Form of Probiotics
One of the best and easiest ways you can pass on probiotics to your infant is by breastfeeding. Mother’s milk contains a plethora of healthy bacteria that move into the baby’s body and colonize the baby’s digestive system. More specifically, there is a super strain found to be critical to baby’s digestion and brain development, known as b. Infantis. Author, Ed Yong describes the importance of this strain in his book “I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life.” Yong highlights that “As long as you provide B. infantis with H.M.O.s, it will outcompete any other gut bacterium.”
According to Yong, up to 70% of breastfeeding moms are missing this key strain due to their own gut health being less than ideal.
So, in addition to breastfeeding, it’s a smart idea to supplement your baby’s diet with probiotics, just as they did in the study mentioned above. In this way, you can be assured that you’re providing all the gut health support you possibly can for your growing infant. All of LoveBug Probiotics’ Tiny Tummies is a probiotic for babies and include this super strain, b. infantis!
How to Give Probiotics to Infants
Babies have special digestive needs, so it’s important to choose a probiotic supplement that is specially formulated for your baby’s age. Ideally, you’ll want to choose a supplement that can be easily mixed with food, milk or water. It should have an abundance of active cultures.
Look for a baby probiotic with a million active cultures. Ideally, you’ll want to use a probiotic that is non-GMO. As always, consult with your baby’s pediatrician so that you can to ensure that your baby’s gut health is the best it can be. Once you decide on the brand and the dose, you can add the probiotic supplement to your baby’s diet by either mixing it in with their baby food, or stirring it into water or pumped breast milk.