All babies are born with a sterile gut. Bacteria are then naturally introduced to a baby’s gut via the birth method (vaginal birth or Caesarean section), through breastmilk or formula and later through the food they eat.
Nurturing a healthy balance of bacteria from a young age is incredibly important. These bacteria support good digestion, immune function, help with nutrient extraction from food and manufacture essential nutrients too. Current research is starting to link the gut bacteria to wider aspects of health including IBS, bowel cancer risk, obesity and even how you think and feel. It’s crucial therefore to nurture a healthy balance right from birth.
The composition of bacteria changes as we grow. A very young baby’s gut is predominantly made up of Bifidobacterium species of bacteria, and supplementation should therefore reflect this. As a baby gorws up and weaning onto solid food begins, the composition of bacteria in the gut changes to include a wider variety of species and strains. At this point, a multi strain probiotic supplement including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus acidophilus species can be used to support a healthy balance of gut microflora.
When would you use probiotic supplements in babies?
Current research suggests that probiotics may help with the management of allergies and relieve eczema symptoms. Supplementation with probiotics may also help to reduce the frequency and duration of diarrhea. Probiotic supplementation is particularly useful following antibiotic therapy in babies. In theory, probiotics are beneficial for infant colic, but evidence is currently limited in this area.
Probiotics are regarded as safe and well tolerated in normal, healthy infants and children. Good tolerance has also been observed in premature infants and very low birth weight babies.
Which probiotic should I use?
• From 4 weeks onwards – Supplement with a dairy free powder formula containing Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 as this reflects the natural composition of bacteria in a newborn baby’s gut
• Once weaning starts – Supplement with a powder formula containing Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 & Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM as this is more reflective of the bacterial composition found in the gut once a baby is exposed to solid food.