You’ve probably heard all the good things about probiotic for adults and then you started wondering if it will benefit your babies and young children as well. The short answer to this question is YES! Although the research on safety on probiotics for infants are limited but of all the available research out there, side effects are rarely reported.
What are Probiotic exactly ? Probiotic are the “good bacteria” itself that’s helps with our digestive system and with consumption will enhance the health of the host (a.k.a -human). It may also improve outcome of pregnancy, certain intestinal problem such as irritable bowel problem or antibiotic associated diarrhea. Probiotic often shows up on food as “live culture” such as yogurt, cheese, kefir, or probiotic drink (such as Yakult). Probiotic also presents in the non-dairy products such as fermented foods – Kimchi, tempeh, miso, natto beans, sauerkraut, Kombucha to name a few.
Of course we don’t anticipate young infants (<6 months of age) to eat all this probiotic foods but guess what ?! Human milk is full of probiotic properties (specifically Bifidobacterium Infantis) that was discovered in the intestinal tract of babies, which is the reason why breastfeeding infant does not get sick as often compared to formula fed babies.
If you are formula feeding your babies, don’t feel guilty. You have done the best you could to provide what you can either first few days, weeks or months of available breast milk to help your baby kick start a better immune system. There’s also probiotic formula available on the shelf these days, mostly labeled as “Formula for supplementing”.
Also, don’t get confused between prebiotic and probiotic. There’s a big differences.
What are Prebiotic? Prebiotic are non-digestible dietary fibers that fuel the good bacteria in our gut (a.k.a bacteria’s food). The more of prebiotics that we consume, the more gut flora will grow and stays to help keep us healthy. Prebiotic also helps produces vitamin B, helps with calcium digestion and absorption as well. Good prebiotic sources includes: Artichoke/Jerusalem Artichoke, chicory roots, leeks, garlic, onions, asparagus, banana, whole wheat products, scallions, apples and legumes.
Therefore, once your babies reaches the age to introduce solids. Try to introduce as much prebiotic food sources in their diet to help colonize their little gut with the good bacteria and ward off illness as much as possible. When prebiotic and probiotic combined, they are a dynamic pair to keep the digestive system healthy.
I always recommend to get your probiotic sources from food before opting for the pill forms.