Probiotics for Babies: What You Should Know

The consumption of probiotics for babies, either through food or supplements, is crucial. Here's what you need to know.
Probiotics for Babies: What You Should Know
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Written and verified by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 06 December, 2022

Probiotics for babies could be the solution to many digestive problems experienced during the first stages of life. They’re effective in preventing disorders caused by antibiotics, as well as many other gastrointestinal conditions.

However, not just any probiotic supplement can be given to a baby. It’s important to choose a suitable one that’s respectful of the bacterial environment of the digestive tract, as it’s still in a state of maturation.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are a series of bacteria that are able to selectively colonize the digestive tract and generate a benefit for the host. Their regular intake is associated with a better state of health, as indicated by research published in the Journal of Microbiology.

These compounds, which are also present in many foods that have undergone a fermentation process, are useful for the following:

  • Preventing infections
  • Improving digestion
  • Combating constipation and diarrhea
  • Guaranteeing a good absorption of nutrients
  • Reducing the symptomatology of lactose intolerance
  • Decreasing the risk of developing obesity or allergies

It must be taken into account that the baby’s microbiota is in a process of change. Depending on whether the birth is natural or by cesarean section, both the density and the bacterial diversity will vary.

A nursing newborn.
Breastfeeding provides a series of live microorganisms that are beneficial for the child, especially in terms of immune function.

What’s the role of probiotics in babies?

As a general rule, probiotics are administered to babies when there’s a digestive or intestinal disturbance. At the moment, there’s no solid evidence that these elements are able to help in all contexts, but they’re effective in certain cases.

According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, it’s possible to administer probiotic products to reduce the incidence of infant colic, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation. This strategy will increase the baby’s sense of well-being and improve their health status.

However, the right choice of supplement must be made. It’s best to first consult a specialist who’ll also provide information on the dosage of the supplement. Probiotics can’t be taken in any way, as in this case, the bacteria may not reach the area of the intestine they’re to colonize alive.

Foods with probiotics

When we talk about the inclusion of probiotics in the diet, we’re not only referring to the use of supplements. There are certain foods that already have beneficial bacteria inside.

Breast milk and formula milk

Breast milk plays a fundamental role in the development of the newborn’s microbiota. Even formula milk often contains this type of bacteria. In this case, different microorganisms are added to achieve better digestion and reduce the incidence of certain digestive problems, such as intolerances. In this way, the immune function is also strengthened.

A baby eating yogurt.
Yogurts contain bacteria that are beneficial for babies. Other foods with probiotics are bananas, oats, and wheat.

Yogurt

It should be noted that once a baby is 6 months old, it’s possible to start complementary feeding. From the age of one year, fermented dairy products are offered, among which yogurts stand out. These foods contain a multitude of probiotic bacteria.

Bananas, oatmeal, and wheat

Until then, only foods that contain fiber, a substance that serves as a substrate for the bacteria that live in the intestine, can be offered. Bananas, oatmeal, or wheat are good examples of these products.

Probiotics for babies are determinant microorganisms in health

As you’ve seen, ensuring a competent microbiota in the baby can help in the prevention of certain disorders at an intestinal level. To this end, the inclusion of probiotics in the diet, either through food or through a supplement, is often beneficial.

However, before opting for one of these products, it’s always best to consult a specialist. Keep in mind that not all of them are suitable for consumption during the first months of life, as the intestine is still in a stage of maturation.

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  • Lee, E. S., Song, E. J., Nam, Y. D., & Lee, S. Y. (2018). Probiotics in human health and disease: from nutribiotics to pharmabiotics. Journal of microbiology (Seoul, Korea)56(11), 773–782. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12275-018-8293-y
  • Pärtty, A., Rautava, S., & Kalliomäki, M. (2018). Probiotics on Pediatric Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. Nutrients10(12), 1836. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10121836

The contents of You Are Mom is for educational and informational purposes only. At no time do they replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. If in doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.