Are probiotics for babies important? Some parent have asked this and the answer is easy, yes they are. Babies and older children all need gut balance to avoid health problems later in life. It’s a sad fact that some 35% of all children develop eczema before they reach the age of three. Why is that so?
Research indicates that often the root problem to such conditions are connected to gut imbalances and a lack of beneficial gut bacteria early in life. Therefore, if a baby’s gut develops as it should, then this will help prevent allergies, eczema, inflammatory conditions, autism, and many other problems.
However, the good news is that parents can do much to significantly lower an infants risk of developing such health problems.
Probiotics for babies have life-long benefits
Studies reveal that probiotic bacteria are involved in the activity of hundreds of genes, and some genes are involved in combating diseases. But for this to work properly, it requires sufficient amounts of good gut bacteria. The mother’s bacteria play an important role. How?
Baby’s first probiotic dose in life
During childbirth, the baby receives gut flora from the birth canal of the mother. Thus the mother’s beneficial microorganisms end up inhabiting the baby’s body and intestines. If the mother’s gut flora is healthy, the baby will inherit a healthy gut flora too. But what if the mother does a C-section?
“There may be long-term risks of Caesarean we’ve not considered before,” says Sibylle Koletzko, of the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany. “I would discourage [them] for all non-medical reasons.” Researchers say that such births may be a factor in the rise in cases of asthma and allergies. A study of 865 babies who were all exclusively breastfed for the first four months showed that those delivered by Caesarean section had more digestive problems and were more likely to develop food intolerances. According to New Scientist, “the explanation might be that babies born by Caesarean do not get a chance to swallow beneficial bacteria during birth; colonization of the gut plays a key role in the development of the immune system.”
Babies born via C-section are not exposed to vital bacteria
If a baby’s mother lacks probiotic bacteria in her digestive system, or if her gut is damaged, then the baby might not receive a complete gut flora.
- The health of the mother’s gut affects the health of the baby
Studies show that babies with a problematic gut can cause…
- gas, colic, reflux, constipation (these are among the first symptoms)
- allergies (associated with the first week of gut development but usually develop over a longer time)
- autism (has become epidemic during last 25 years)
- mood disorders, depression
- other problems…
However, many symptoms are reversible!
Don’t freak out if you baby has symptoms; your baby needs your help! Remember also that not all children develop all of these symptoms. And there’s much you can do for your baby to avoid these problems, no matter if your child already has a problematic gut.
Mothers! your gut health affects your newborn
- Infections: Studies show that 85% of pregnant women suffer vaginal infection, which unknowingly is passed on to the baby at the time of birth. Thus, harmful bacteria and yeast are passed on to the baby.
- Antibiotics: when given to the mother before or during pregnancy, it can wipe out much of the mother’s natural bacteria and create unbalances in her digestive tract.
Imbalances in the mother’s digestive tract can inhibit the immune system and cause toxins to remain in the baby’s body. The child is normally born with a healthy brain, but gut problems can create a toxicity that affects the normal function of the brain and the child can develop health problems.
The baby’s gut flora is very sensitive
- Antibiotics: If a baby is given antibiotics, the gut flora could become wiped out and it might take months before it recovers. During this time when the baby is weakened, bad bacteria, yeast and other “opportunists” are given a chance to grow out of control. Typical symptoms of this are eczema, constipation, infections, diarrhea, and colic.
- Vaccines: If the baby’s gut is already compromised, a vaccine will stress the baby’s immune system much like petrol on a fire. This can set the stage for more serious health problems. Happily, parents can do much to prevent or even reverse many problems.
Nothing is better for your child than breastfeeding! Studies have shown that many essential nutrients and probiotic bacteria from the mother pass into the milk and benefit the child. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends that breastfeeding mothers take a high-quality probiotic supplement to ensure that the baby is generously supplied with probiotic bacteria.
Some mothers consume probiotics to support her breastfeeding baby
For some hours after giving birth, babies are very receptive to the mother’s first milk, the colostrum. This milk is extremely nourishing for the baby and is packed with nutrients. During these first hours, beneficial microorganisms and yeast start colonizing the baby’s mucosal lining and this creates a protective barrier against harmful microorganisms. Remember that 80% of the baby’s immune system is located in the gut.
If your baby is lacking a good microflora, the protective barrier will not be properly formed on the baby’s gut lining. What can happen is that the baby’s body can think that certain nutrients are intruders and therefore it creates antibodies to protect against it. Thus, a food allergy can develop.
Supporting the baby with enough probiotics after birth will promotes a healthy gut and properly colonized intestines. This is a strong protection against food allergies.
What if breastfeeding is not possible?
Don’t despair, there’s still much you can do. While breast milk is best for a baby, you can find other ways to add healthy probiotics to your baby’s diet.
- Try making homemade yogurt from raw milk from grass-fed animals. It’s very simple! But avoid most commercial yogurt as it is stripped of nutrients and contains too low amounts of probiotics. At the start, feed your infant a very small amount of probiotic yogurt daily. This is well tolerated by most babies. Once you see this is fine, you can increase the amount a little, or move over to kefir which contains different bacteria that yogurt, even though it tastes similar.
- If you make homemade fermented vegetables, try to give tiny amounts of the juice to you baby a few times per day.
- Use a probiotic supplement. This also works well in case of stronger symptoms. However, try to lower the probiotic dose. One way is to dissolve a capsule in a glass of water or juice and give the child a little now during the day.
Sick newborns and premature babies often get antibiotics. In this case, it’s important to rebuild the baby’s gut flora. It’s usually best to introduce probiotics before the start of antibiotics. This way the baby’s gut will be more resistant to the onslaught of the antibiotics that can otherwise wipe out most gut bacteria.
According to an Australian study, babies receiving antibiotics still had an abnormal gut flora four weeks later. It shows the devastation antibiotics can cause. But probiotic supplementation can compensate for much of this. It is wise to first speak to your physician about your baby’s probiotic supplementation.
Can a baby be allergic to the mother’s milk?
Very unlikely! But symptoms like colic might be a sign that your baby has some problem with the digestive tract. Microflora imbalances are common. In any case, adding extra probiotics can be a simple and sage solution.
To ensure a high-quality breast milk, the mother must supply her own body with proper nutrients.
Mothers consuming a probiotics supplement, supports beneficial bacteria in her breast milk
Feed your baby a little probiotics daily. If you make you own fermented vegetables, put a little juice on your finger and let the baby suck. After a while, you can add a small baby spoonful of juice three times a day. If you use homemade yogurt, dilute it in a little water and feed your baby a few times per day.
Don’t underestimate probiotics for babies!
Both moms and babies need probiotics to thrive!
Planning the pregnancy and when breastfeeding, try to consume fermented vegetables, yogurt, kefir, miso, kimchi or any other probiotic products that are at your disposal. Avoid most commercial products as they are often low in bacteria and contain unhealthy additives. Most yogurt are also packed with sugar. Adding probiotics for babies has proven a cornerstone for lifelong good health!