Does My Baby Need a Probiotic?
Recently, there has been a lot of information available regarding gut health. Maybe this is a brand-new concept for you. Maybe you’re asking yourself “Does my baby need a probiotic?” Supplements for infants can be confusing for all parents! Especially with new evidence appearing and claims about the benefits of probiotics!
What is the Difference Between a Probiotic and Prebiotic?
Firstly, you may be asking yourself “what is a probiotic and how does it differ from a prebiotic?” A prebiotic is a carbohydrate that can’t be digested. Prebiotics are found in food or dietary supplements. Instead of being digested, bacteria in your colon breaks down the prebiotic. This breakdown is considered to be ‘fertilizer’ for your gut, and helps the growth of GOOD bacteria (1).
A probiotic is good, live bacteria found in food or dietary supplements. Probiotics form groups of good bacteria in the digestive tract. They can change the environment or provide you with potential health benefits in the gastrointestinal tract. Prebiotics help with the growth and survival of probiotics in your digestive tract (1).
Are Probiotics Safe for My Baby?
Although probiotics are becoming more popular, there is still no guarantee in their effectiveness (2). Unfortunately, there is no regulation in Canada for how much probiotic should be in a food or how to label probiotics on food packaging. However, there are regulations for probiotic supplements. Probiotic supplements must meet certain standards to be sold in Canada (2). These supplements are not necessary for your baby to be healthy.
There is however, strong supporting evidence surrounding probiotics and infant colic (1). It has been suggested that probiotics could reduce infant colic symptoms. Colic symptoms include gas, bloating, discomfort, fussiness, food allergies, and an immature digestive system. This topic needs more research to come to a definite conclusion (3).
If your baby has a milk allergy, you should avoid foods with probiotics since they may contain milk proteins (2). We suggest talking to your Dietitian or other healthcare provider before giving your baby a probiotic supplement, because the effects will vary depending on the individual.
Above all, if you’re trying to decide whether or not your baby needs a probiotic, book a free call with one of our Dietitians.
Food Sources of Probiotics
Food sources of probiotics include (1):
- Yogurt (with live cultures such as lactobacillus or bifidobacterium)
- Cottage Cheese
- Soy sauce
- Tempeh (an excellent plant-based protein alternative to add into your routine!)
Final Notes from The Nest
In conclusion, supplements are TRICKY, and probiotic supplementation can be confusing. You may still be wondering, “Does my baby need a probiotic?” Therefore, it is best to speak to a healthcare professional before giving your baby a probiotic. Here at The Nest, a Dietitian can support you in this journey. From determining if your baby might benefit from a probiotic, what product they would benefit from and the proper dosage for their age and needs!
Looking for individualized support?
Book a free consultation call to connect with us and see if we’re the right fit for what you’re looking for!
- Brown, E. J. Nutrition Through the Life Cycle (7th). Stamford (CT): Cengage Learning; 2014. P. 38 & 172.
- The Pros of Probiotics – Unlock Food [Internet]. Unlockfood.ca. 2018 [cited 14 January 2022]. Available from: https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Digestion/The-Pros-of-Probiotics.aspx
- Understanding Infant Colic – Unlock Food [Internet]. Unlockfood.ca. 2018 [cited 14 January 2022]. Available from: https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Infant-feeding/Understanding-Infant-Colic.aspx