Next, other yeasts and bacterial cultures are introduced by the host of well-wishing visitors who will each give their own probiotic cultures to the baby along with their gifts of tiny clothing and stuffed animals.
The diversity and complexity of a baby’s microbiome (all the yeasts, bacteria and other microbes that inhabit our bodies) is further influenced by their home environment. Do they have pets? Hepa-filtered air? Did they need antibiotics?
What are the best probiotics for babies?
My sister had a really challenging delivery, which was followed by excessive bleeding. Because she gave birth in the middle of the pandemic, when she ended up back to the hospital for monitoring and a blood transfusion, her husband and newborn baby weren’t allowed to join her. And as a result of missing out on that early nursing period her milk supply never really came in.
Her biggest concern around not being able to breast-feed was making sure her baby got the probiotics he needed. So she asked me to do some research on the topic of probiotics for babies.
Here is some practical and simple advice for making sure your baby has the probiotics they need.
To make sure your infant has a good dose of probiotics right away, it’s best to start before birth. Everyone in the house will contribute to the baby’s first dose of bacteria and yeasts. So it’s worth eating a diet that will help improve everyone’s microbiome.
Here’s a post on how you can make sure you have the best probiotics during your pregnancy.
There are a number of probiotic supplements available for infants. These can include probiotic powder that can be mixed into formula and probiotic drops (affiliate links). While the viability of probiotic supplements is never guaranteed, in general probiotics are more likely to survive the harsh environment of the stomach if coupled with milk. So in that way, they’re perfect for babies!
Another way to make sure your infant is getting a good dose of probiotics is by making your own fermented foods. While they might not be ready for a forkful of sauerkraut or a slice of sourdough bread, they will benefit from the increase in wild yeast and bacterial culture in your home.
There are lots of different philosophies when it comes to introducing foods to babies. I recommend following the latest government guidelines, which suggest:
- Avoiding commercial baby foods prepared with salt or sugar.
- Ensuring food is safely prepared and stored. (So no mould ferments, honey ferments or unusual ferments).
- Including iron-rich foods and high nutrient value foods.
- Yogurt is probably the best fermented food to serve to 6-month-old babies. It has the right texture, familiar flavour and is packed full of nutrition. Try a few different brands of plain yogurt for different strains of bacterial culture.
It’s important to start introducing textured food to babies by nine months. Finger foods are perfect for encouraging self-feeding and will give caregivers a chance to sit down and eat at the same time.
This is the perfect time to introduce a variety of fermented foods:
- Fermented vegetables, in particular, carrot sticks are soft enough for babies to chew on.
- Dairy ferments, like cheese, yogurt, cultured buttermilk and milk kefir are more easily digested than plain milk.
- Making sourdough bread not only improves the digestibility of complex carbohydrates, but it also increases the wild yeast and bacterial cultures in your home.
- Fermented beverages like kombucha and water kefir, because they are acidic, sugary and slightly alcoholic.
- Raw honey ferments because of the risk of botulism in the immature digestive system.
- Mould ferments also because of the risk to the immature digestive system.