Have you ever wondered which mother actually uses the disinfectant wipes at the grocery store to clean their shopping cart and spreads out the cushy seat cover before placing her little bundle of joy in it? Well, that mother is me.
Since giving birth just over a year ago, I am definitely more precautionary against Mr. Cootie and all his friends. So, trying to explain, especially to other new mothers, why I give my son probiotics, aka BACTERIA, can be tricky.
The definition of probiotics, “for life,”1 is a good start. Probiotics are bacteria that promote intestinal health and are often referred to as “good bacteria.” Probiotics coat the intestinal lining and fight off disease-causing bacteria by keeping them from penetrating the intestinal lining and have been shown to be useful in the following medical situations2:
- Following antibiotic therapy
- Rotavirus-associated diarrhea
- Lactose intolerance
- Intestinal bacterial and viral infections
- Chronic, allergic eczema in infants
- Bladder infections
Prevention Magazine published an article in 1993 regarding the benefits of these friendly bacteria for babies’ health. The article goes on to say that mother’s milk encourages the micro-organisms, particularly Bifidobacteria, in the digestive system which may be why breast-fed babies have fewer incidences of colic and other digestive problems and are less susceptible to infections. Bifidobacteria accounts for up to 99% of the friendly intestinal flora in healthy, breast-fed babies.
Babies are naturally inoculated with Bifidobacteria infantis and other helpful microorganisms as they pass through the birth canal. They enter the baby’s intestines through the mouth and attempt to attach themselves to sites on the gastrointestinal wall before other unfriendly micro-organisms compete for the same real estate.4 However, even in healthy babies, different environmental factors can cause the balance of intestinal flora to become unstable making supplementation desirable.
Probiotics are now available in a variety of pills, liquids, food products, powders and in many of the baby formulas on the market. Baby’s Only Essentials Probiotics Supplement is a powder that you can add directly to your baby’s milk or formula. Garden of Life makes a product called Primal Defense for Kids which is also in powder form and contains Bifidus and other friendly flora. It is recommended for children aged 3 and up and is made with organic banana to enhance the taste.
My favorite product is Childlife Colostrum 4 Kids with Probiotics. The addition of colostrum gives this product added benefits. Colostrum is the first milk a new mother produces and is highest in white blood cells and infection-fighting proteins. (2) Cultured (or fermented) foods also contain various types and amounts of beneficial bacteria including buttermilk, cheese, miso, sauerkraut, and yogurt.(5)5 YoBaby makes an organic yogurt that contains 6 live cultures (according to their website most contain 2-4) to supplement those already found in the digestive tract.
As parents, we want the very best for our children. Ask your pediatrician about adding probiotics to your little one’s diet to maximize digestive and immune efficiency.
Cindy Burreson has worked in the health and fitness industry for over 15 years as a national fitness competitor, personal trainer, and owner of a nutrition store. She holds a certification in nutrition and worked for both MET-Rx and PR Ironman Bar. She is now a full-time mom and writing about health and fitness is her passion.