Probiotics food for babies

Probiotics for babies | BabyCenter

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What are probiotics?

Probiotics are microorganisms, such as bacteria or yeast, that can be beneficial to your health. Some types of these microorganisms live in your body – in your intestines, for example. Probiotics are also found in food, such as some kinds of yogurt. They're also available as dietary supplements, and some baby formulas even have added probiotics.

Some adults take probiotic supplements to help with digestive problems. Probiotics may also have benefits for infants, such as easing colic and treating diarrhea.

But there isn't scientific evidence to support all the claims made in favor of probiotics. Before giving your baby a probiotic supplement or probiotic-enhanced formula, talk to your child's doctor and do a little research.

Read on to find out how probiotics work and what the evidence shows about their benefits and safety.

How do probiotics work?

Your body hosts trillions of microorganisms, mostly bacteria, that are collectively known as your microbiome. Some types are considered harmful and others helpful, but ideally they coexist in balance with one another. When the balance is disturbed, resulting in too many "bad" bacteria, it can lead to diarrhea or other health problems.

Certain illnesses can upset the balance of bacteria in your intestines. So can taking antibiotics, which wipes out both good and bad bacteria. The body usually restores this balance on its own over time. But studies show that taking probiotics can sometimes help speed up this process and may prevent or ease certain symptoms.

How can probiotics help babies?

Probiotics may help infants with:

  • Diarrhea: There's strong evidence that certain probiotics can help treat diarrhea caused by infection or antibiotics. One study showed that giving babies certain probiotics as soon as they started having diarrhea caused by a stomach virus shortened the course of illness by one day. There's not as much evidence that probiotics can prevent diarrhea in babies.
  • Colic: The cause of colic is unknown, but some experts believe that it may be related to gas-producing bacteria and low numbers of a certain type of bacteria in a baby's intestinal tract. Probiotics may reduce colic symptoms by tipping the balance in favor of good bacteria in the intestines. One study found that colicky, breastfed babies given a probiotic supplement cried for a shorter period of time each day than untreated infants within one week of starting the treatment. However, more studies are needed to confirm this effect.
  • Eczema: In another study, researchers gave probiotics to women with a history of eczema in their last months of pregnancy. They breastfed their babies and gave them probiotics for six months. By age 4 years, kids who received this treatment were almost half as likely to have eczema than those who didn't. However, other studies found no benefit.

What about prebiotics?

Prebiotics are substances found in certain foods (mostly fruits and vegetables) that function as food for gut bacteria, stimulating their growth. Prebiotics are also sold as dietary supplements and can be found in some baby formulas.

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Not much research has been done on prebiotics. In one study, infants were given prebiotic supplements in formula during the first six months of life. After 2 years, the infants given the prebiotics were less likely to have a type of skin allergy called atopic dermatitis. But other studies haven't found any benefit to prebiotic supplements.

How can I tell what kind of probiotics could help my baby?

Talk to your baby's health care provider. She'll first examine him to rule out a more serious illness and make sure that it would be safe for him to take probiotics. This is especially important if your child has a compromised immune system.

If you decide to give probiotics a try, your child's doctor may be able to recommend a brand that contains the right bacterial strains to meet your baby's needs. For example, research suggests that Bifidobacterium breve and Bifidobacterium longum can help manage colic. Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus (known as LGG) may help treat diarrhea.

Dosage is another consideration. For infants and children, studies show that a dosage between 5 and 10 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per day is sufficient to establish enough good bacteria.

How do I give my baby probiotics?

Probiotic supplements come in many forms, including liquid drops and powder that can be mixed into breast milk, water, or formula. However, keep in mind that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't regulate supplements, so it's often difficult to know exactly what you're getting. (See our article on buying supplements for guidance.)

You can also put probiotic drops directly into your baby's mouth. If you're breastfeeding, you can even put the drops on your breast right before you nurse him. Or you can add them to a bottle of formula or breast milk. Just don't heat the bottle over 100 degrees F or you'll risk destroying the microorganisms.

You can also buy formula containing probiotics. Unlike the supplements described above, these products are regulated by the FDA and have been approved as safe. But that doesn't mean there is evidence in support of any health claims. And as with the drops mentioned above, you'll destroy the probiotics if you heat the formula too much.

Are there foods containing probiotics that I can give my baby?

Some foods contain probiotics, although there haven't been any studies done that demonstrate health effects for babies. Still, it can't hurt to try them.

Yogurt is a great source of probiotics. Most babies can start eating yogurt as soon as they start eating solids – around 4 to 6 months. Look for products that contain "live" or "active" cultures, which means the organisms have not been destroyed by heat during processing. Choose plain, unsweetened yogurt to avoid added sugar. 

Other foods that naturally contain probiotics:

  • Kefir, a type of fermented milk drink (like yogurt)
  • Brined or fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchee, and pickles made with salt (not vinegar)
  • Miso (fermented soybean paste)
  • Tempeh (another fermented soy product)
  • Aged cheeses, like cheddar or blue cheese

If you have questions about starting your baby on these foods, talk to your health care provider. BabyCenter also offers these tips for introducing your baby to new foods.

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Probiotics for children

Kathleen Scogna

Kathleen Scogna is the senior director of education at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and a former freelance medical writer based in Baltimore.

Probiotic Foods for Kids: 6 Easy, Healthy Options

Learn about the benefits of probiotic foods for kids and where you can easily find them.

You’ve heard the phrase: Your health is your wealth.

Well, if your health is your wealth, your gut health is priceless.

I should know.

A few years ago, I made a business trip to another country. During my stay, I acquired a parasite. (sad face)

I became very sick and needed nearly a month of treatment with strong antibiotics to get rid of the parasite.

After that, it took months to heal and re-build the healthy gut I once had.

What is Gut Health?

We all have a digestive system. It helps our bodies digest the food we eat so we can absorb the nutrients from food.

Within our gastrointestinal tract, or gut, live trillions of bacteria.

Scientists call this our gut microbiome, which refers to the microsystem or environment contained within our digestive tracts.

Exciting and emerging research teaches us that our microbiome may be responsible for much more than food digestion.

From happy, hopeful mood states to a robust immunity, we’re learning that a healthy gut microbiome is key to our health.

We Want a Diverse Microbiome

Of course, when you have trillions of bacteria in your gut, some of them are going to be helpful, and some not so much.

The balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut influence your health.

While research has targeted the connection between gut health and obesity, brain function, immunity and more, probiotics and fermented foods are a common recommendation for helping the gut microbiome stay balanced and healthy.

Probiotics are “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host,” according to a consensus panel from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization (FAO/WHO).

Research on probiotics in children have suggested the following potential benefits of probiotics:

  • Reduces inflammation of the gut in premature infants, and possibly prevents necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)
  • Increases the good bacteria in the microbiome of healthy, breastfed infants
  • Prevents diarrhea in children taking antibiotics
  • Reduces crying in babies with colic
  • Reduces likelihood and symptoms of eczema
  • Prevents respiratory tract infections in day care and preschool
  • Reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS (studies are from adult subjects, yet medical practitioners are applying these findings to children)

While many studies on probiotics and gut health have been done, these studies highlight specific strains of probiotics.

Experts warn that long term benefits and effects of probiotics on health are still unknown.

Additionally, probiotic content varies from brand to brand in that they contain different strains of probiotics and combinations of them.

Each strain of probiotic has a different effect on the gut, depending on the individual’s gut microbiome.

Food with Probiotics

Fermented foods contain live microbes and may confer a beneficial effect on the gut.

For example, fermented dairy products have been associated with a reduction in Type 2 diabetes in adults.

Yet, experts point out that it can be difficult to tease out whether health effects come from live microorganisms or the nutritional quality of the food itself.

The bottom line: Foods with probiotic containing living cultures can add beneficial bacteria to the gut so your child can reap the health benefits.

Probiotic Foods for Kids  

In my work with kids, gut health comes up a lot. Parents are curious about whether they should start a probiotic, or not.

Generally, if a child is healthy or has gut issues like constipation or lactose-intolerance, I like to see families increase their consumption of fermented foods.

6 Foods to Introduce to Kids

You might recognize yogurt as a source of live and active cultures, yet, you might not realize there are several other fermented foods from which to choose.

The six I list here are kid-friendly fermented foods with which your child may enjoy.

1. Yogurt (with Live Cultures)

Made from milk that has been fermented with bacteria, yogurt has been shown to help with diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome in children.

Not all yogurt is equal, though. Some yogurts have live cultures, which means there are active probiotic strains within the yogurt.

In other yogurts, the cultures have been killed during processing.

Tip: Choose yogurts with live or active cultures.

Here’s a guide for choosing the best yogurt for your child.

2. Kefir

Kefir is a fermented milk drink made by adding kefir grains to cow’s milk or goat’s milk.

Personally, it’s one of my favorites and I’ve had great success introducing this option to kids, even picky eaters!

Even though kefir can have a sour flavor, many brands offer flavored versions like mango, strawberry and blueberry.

More potent than yogurt, kefir hosts a wide variety of gut-friendly probiotic strains. It’s also well-tolerated by people with lactose intolerance.

Tip: Offer a few ounces in the morning with breakfast.

3. Pickles

Pucker up! Pickles may be fermented in a solution of salt and water, or in a vinegar solution.

Cucumbers pickled with salt and water ferment over time. Coupled with the naturally present lactic acid in cucumber, this produces active cultures and a sour flavor.

Pickles made with vinegar are not a source of live and active cultures.

Tip: If you’ve never tried pickling cucumbers in salt and water, give it a whirl!



Buttermilk may contain live, active cultures, however, the buttermilk products available in the grocery store may not contain live, active cultures due to processing.

Always check the label for evidence of cultures. Cultured buttermilk can be made at home and is started with live, active cultures added to fresh milk or cream.

The buttermilk is allowed to ferment, producing a cultured buttermilk.  Cultured buttermilk can be an addition to baked goods like biscuits and to make delicious pancakes.

5. Cheese

Most cheeses are fermented, but only some cheeses are a source of live cultures. You can find them by looking for a label that states “with live and active cultures.”

Gouda, mozzarella, and cheddar cheese are examples that may contain living cultures.

6. Tempeh

Tempeh is a high protein meat substitute made from fermented soybeans. Fermentation lowers the phytic acid in beans, making nutrients like iron and zinc more available to the body for absorption.

The process of fermentation also causes the production of vitamin B12, which is not typically present in beans, making tempeh a nutritious meat alternative for vegetarians.

More Fermented Foods

Other fermented food sources can be found in the refrigerator!

Look for sauerkraut, kombucha, miso, natto, and kimchi.

And, of course, go ahead and try these with your child too!

I want to know…which are your favorite fermented foods?

Need More Help with Feeding Kids?

Check out the on demand library, programs and books at The Nourished Child.

Nutrition for children: probiotics + prebiotics

Functional nutrition is a diet that includes products containing pro- and prebiotics.

Probiotics (bifidobacteria, lactobacilli) are representatives of the normal intestinal microflora, live bacteria that have a beneficial effect on the child's body, forming a complete barrier of the intestinal mucosa. This barrier prevents pathogens from attaching to the mucosa, stimulates the body's defenses and improves the balance of the intestinal microflora. nine0005

Probiotics can influence the suppression of the growth of opportunistic flora, the development of diarrhea (loose stools) and candidiasis (fungal infection) of the gastrointestinal tract, the synthesis of vitamins, the absorption of minerals, especially calcium, the reduction of symptoms of lactase deficiency, as well as the increase in the frequency of stools and reducing the risk of constipation. Introduced with food, probiotics have a positive effect on the course of food allergies and intestinal diseases in children. However, increasing importance is attached to the influence of probiotics on the immune system. nine0005

Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth and/or activity of certain strains of bacteria in the colon. These include breast milk oligosaccharides, inulin and its hydrolysis products - fructooligosaccharides (FOS), as well as galactooligosaccharides (GOS).

The gut is the body's first line of defense against "bad" bacteria. The protective function of the intestine is provided by the dominant position of bifidobacteria, especially in children of the first year of life. A baby with mother's milk receives substances (oligosaccharides) that promote the growth of bifidobacteria. From this moment, the development of his immune system begins. Live intestinal bacteria develop, activate, train the baby's immunity. A decrease in the number of bacteria in the intestines can disrupt the development of the immune system, contribute to the occurrence of allergic conditions. nine0005

The period of introduction of complementary foods is accompanied by a decrease in the number of bifidobacteria in the intestines of the infant, as the volume of breast milk decreases. The diet includes a variety of foods that promote the growth of other bacteria. Therefore, when it comes time to introduce complementary foods, it is best that your baby gets bifidobacteria every day. This will help maintain a healthy microflora and thereby strengthen the child's immune system. Bifidobacteria from complementary foods (cereals) and mixtures, passing through the gastrointestinal tract of the child and not lingering in it, contribute to the growth of their own bacteria. Bifidobacteria, which are added to foods (probiotics), mimic the action of your own beneficial bacteria in the intestines of the child. That is why foods for children are fortified with probiotics. nine0005

But in order to saturate your body with useful live bacteria, you do not always need to take pills and other medicines. Many of the bacteria are found in food, which must be included in your daily diet. Dairy products (cheese, kefir, cottage cheese, buttermilk, etc.) are sources of probiotics. reduction in the frequency of constipation, normalization of metabolic processes in the intestinal lumen. nine0005

The prebiotic inulin is found in plants (garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, etc.), but its main source for industrial needs is chicory. Prebiotic properties have dietary fiber contained in vegetables, fruits, bran, cereals, oats, onions, corn, potatoes, bananas, pasta.

When buying food for your baby, parents, pay attention to the presence of pro- and prebiotics in them.

We, adults, by establishing the “rules of nutrition”, are already shaping the future health of our children. nine0005

Marina Chernyaeva, pediatric gastroenterologist

Probiotics and prebiotics in domestic baby food products.

Home / Science in Belarus / Probiotics and prebiotics in baby food products of domestic production.

nine0002 06/24/2013

Science in Belarus

It is considered proven that food contains active functional components that directly affect the functioning of all organs and systems.

The relationship between the food consumed, the human body and the environment is provided by the microflora, whose representatives, through the most complex and not fully understood mechanisms, determine the nature of the interaction between the human immune system and the microbial environment. The closest interaction between microorganisms and immune cells is realized in the intestine. The mucous membrane of the gastrointestinal tract ensures the interaction of the macroorganism with a huge population of microorganisms located in the intestinal lumen, with the intestinal microflora itself, as well as with all microorganisms that enter the human body with food. The microbial ecosystem of the body is unique to each person, while throughout life it can change in response to changes in health status, diet, environmental factors. At present, there is no doubt that the “keys to health” of a person lie in the plane of his relationship with the world of microorganisms. And first of all, this applies to children. nine0005

In a physiological pregnancy, the baby is born sterile. But already in the first hours after birth, bacterial colonization of the intestine begins. In breastfed infants, the intestinal microflora is represented mainly by bifidobacteria, lactobacilli and a small number of staphylococci. At the same time, such a composition of the intestinal microflora and its protective effect on the body is provided mainly by special factors - factors of breast milk, which include, first of all, galactooligosaccharides. With artificial feeding, the composition of the intestinal microflora of infants is dominated by E. coli and bacteroids, which is associated with a different quality of food entering the digestive tract [1]. Therefore, the task of paramount importance in artificial feeding of infants is the correction of the composition of the intestinal microflora through the use of proper formulas for nutrition. For this purpose, pro- and prebiotics are used. nine0005

Probiotics are literally translated “for life” and represent a fairly large group of microorganisms that restore normal microflora and antagonize pathogenic and opportunistic bacteria. Bifidobacterium-based probiotics are most commonly used in infants and young children. Currently, only 5 probiotic strains are approved for use in children in the first months of life, among them only B. laktisBB-12 is the only probiotic that has received GRAS status from the FDA (American Code of Food and Drug Regulation) GRAS status, that is, an absolutely safe probiotic [2]. nine0005

Prebiotics are nutrients that are used by beneficial intestinal microorganisms during their growth and have a positive effect on microbiocenosis. The main prebiotics in breast milk are galactooligosaccharides, indigestible components that selectively stimulate the growth and activity of normal microflora in the infant's intestines. In milk formulas for children, galactooligosaccharides (GOS), fructooligosaccharides (FOS), lactulose and inulin are most often used as prebiotics. The GOS:FOS ratio is kept as 9:1 in accordance with the recommendations of the Scientific Committee on Nutrition of the European Union.

In the Republic of Belarus, the only manufacturer of baby food formulas is Bellakt JSC. The degree of adaptation of mixtures produced by the enterprise complies with international standards. In the production of mixtures, modern technologies and multi-stage quality control are used, which is confirmed by international quality certificates ISO and HACCP. As a probiotic, the most studied probiotic strain B. laktisBB-12 was introduced into infant milk formulas "Bellakt-immunis 1,2,3", "Bellakt KM-1", "Bellakt-KM-2". The number of bifidobacteria B. laktisBB-12 in 1 ml of the reconstituted mixture, CFU, not less than 1.3×10. The B. laktisBB-12 strain has a stimulating effect on the immune system, promotes the development of the intestinal epithelium, produces B vitamins, prevents the growth of pathogenic microorganisms, protecting against intestinal infections. Fermented milk mixtures "Bellakt KM-1", "Bellakt-KM-2" are obtained by fermentation of milk with thermophilic lactic acid bacteria and, in addition to enrichment with the probiotic B. laktisBB-12, contains immunonutrients (long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, nucleotides, etc.). nine0005

GOS and FOS are used as prebiotics in Bellakt mixtures in the ratio of 9:1 recommended by the EU Scientific Committee on Nutrition. Prebiotics are part of the mixtures "Bellakt Optimum 1,2,3" (for healthy children), "Bellakt GA" (for children at risk of developing allergies), "Bellakt PRE" (for feeding premature babies), "Bellakt SOYA" (for nutrition of children with cow's milk protein intolerance and lactose intolerance), "Bellakt AR" (antireflux - for children with functional disorders of the gastrointestinal tract). The evaluation of clinical efficacy in accordance with the principles of "Good Clinical Practice" mixture "Bellakt Optimum 3" (Minsk City Children's Clinic No. 10, 2010) showed that after 30 days of using the product in the diet, there was a significantly significant increase in the number of bifidobacteria (P <0.01), lactobacilli (P<0.001), normal Escherichia coli (P<0.01). The scatological syndrome of impaired digestion of fats (fatty acids, neutral fat, soaps) was stopped, the frequency of detection of starch (P<0.05), iodophilic flora decreased. nine0005

Evaluation of the clinical efficacy of mixtures with prebiotics "BellaktPre" (State State Institution Republican Scientific and Practical Center "Mother and Child", 2006, 2009), "BellaktGA" (State Republican Scientific and Practical Center "Mother and Child", 2009), "BellaktNL" (ME "Minsk City children's polyclinic No.

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