Breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby. But, if you have been breastfeeding for a while and haven’t introduced solid foods yet, you might be wondering about probiotics for babies.
There is a lot of conflicting information out there about whether or not children need probiotics when they are exclusively breastfed.
Some say it’s unnecessary because breast milk contains all the nutrients that a child needs in their first year of life, but others argue that introducing probiotic supplements will help strengthen their immune system and prevent allergies later on in childhood. So what should you do?
This article will examine both sides of the argument to determine whether or not feeding your child probiotic supplements can benefit them health-wise as well as economically (i.e., save money).
We will also discuss how much it costs to buy these products and which ones are most effective at boosting gut health so that your baby doesn’t develop any allergies.
Do babies need probiotics if breastfeeding?
Babies are born with a sterile gut, and their first introduction to the world is through breast milk. It’s widely known that breastfeeding can provide many benefits for both baby and mother.
But what about the health of your baby’s digestive system? Breast milk contains probiotics, but babies don’t have any bacteria in their guts yet! How does this affect them?
The answer lies in how we were all born – as infants we too had no bacteria living inside us. Then something happened…we were introduced to probiotics by our mothers via breast milk.
What are probiotics and why do babies need them
While breastfeeding has many health benefits for both mom and baby, there are some side effects that can make it difficult to continue.
One of these side effects is a weakened immune system which leaves you more susceptible to infections and illness.
This makes sense as breast milk contains antibodies from the mother’s bloodstream which help protect an infant against viruses, bacteria and other pathogens in their environment.
The problem with this protection is that it also makes babies less able to fight off infection themselves until they have been exposed to enough germs through normal contact with people and objects in their environment (known as “exposure”) or when they start eating solid foods at around six months old.
To maintain your immunity while breastfeeding you need supplemental probiotics. If you’re having trouble maintaining your own natural defences while breastfeeding, consider probiotics.
Probiotics for breastfeeding mothers
Probiotics are microorganisms that help maintain digestive balance in your intestines by promoting healthy bacteria and inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria.
The good bacteria also help to crowd out yeast and bad bacteria, so they do not thrive and cause infections such as thrush and urinary tract infections (UTIs).
For many, probiotics can help to get rid of issues such as constipation and diarrhea, promote strong bones and teeth, improve mental health (see here), help allergies by reducing inflammation in your body, boost fertility (see here) and promote skin health.
When you take probiotics, the good bacteria spreads through your body, including to your milk ducts. This means that you pass these on to your baby through breast milk along with any side effects such as improved immunity which can help protect them against infection.
Which probiotic to choose?
When choosing a probiotic, make sure it is intended for both adults and children because infants need more of a certain type of probiotic than adults. You’ll want to look for a probiotic that has the following strains:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Streptococcus thermophilus
Babies do not have fully developed intestines and therefore they do not have the same intestinal flora as adults. Babies missing out on these good bacteria are more likely to develop food allergies and other disorders such as eczema, asthma or irritable bowel syndrome later in life.
Some women who are pregnant or breastfeeding make use of probiotics to help reduce the risk of their baby developing allergies, eczema and other conditions.
Buying probiotics with these strains in them will deliver more value for money than those not containing any or all of these strains.
Ultimately, you can find cheaper probiotics for you and your baby, but finding ones that deliver the benefits you are after should always be your prime objective.
The benefits of giving your baby probiotics while breastfeeding
There are many benefits of giving your baby probiotics while breastfeeding.
This is important because breastfed babies can suffer from gastrointestinal problems and low levels of good bacteria in their gut. Probiotics don’t just help with digestion, but also boost your immune system and reduce the risk of allergies and asthma.
There are many different types of probiotics available, so you need to choose the right one for your baby. You can buy probiotics in pill form, liquid form, or powder form. If you’re breastfeeding, it’s best to give your baby probiotics that are specifically designed for babies.
How to give your baby probiotics while breastfeeding
You can give your baby probiotics in a number of ways:
- As a powder that is mixed with breast milk or formula before feeding.
- In drops that are put into your baby’s mouth.
- In a gel that is rubbed on your baby’s gums.
- In a capsule that is swallowed by yourself and then passes through your breast milk to your baby (most will not recommend this method as the capsules may be hard for an infant to swallow).
These supplements can help supplement any vitamins or medications you are taking. Probiotics do not replace breast milk and should only be used as part of a healthy diet. Speak with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
While probiotics can help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, they should not be seen as a replacement for breast milk. Breast milk is still the best source of nutrition for infants and provides them with antibodies that help protect them against infection.
However, probiotics can help supplement any vitamins or medications you are taking and can be given to your baby in a number of ways.
Why you might not want to give your baby probiotics while breastfeeding
The first few days of life are crucial for a baby’s health. That’s why many parents want to give their newborns the best start possible by feeding them breastmilk, which is rich in antibodies and nutrients that can help protect against illness.
But new research suggests it might not be wise to also give your baby probiotics while breastfeeding because it could lower levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
A recent study published found that infants who were given four different types of probiotic supplements along with breast milk – Lactobacillus, Saccharomyces boulardii, Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis and Enterococcus faecalis – had significantly less diverse bacterial communities than those whose mothers didn’t give them probiotics.
The babies who received probiotics also had higher levels of potentially harmful bacteria, including Clostridium and Enterobacteriaceae.
While the study was small and didn’t look at the long-term effects of giving probiotics to newborns, it’s an important reminder that more research is needed on the potential risks and benefits of using probiotics during infancy.
In the meantime, it might be best to wait until your child is a little older before giving them probiotics, especially if they’re being breastfed.
There are many reasons why you might want to give your baby probiotics while breastfeeding.
Probiotics are believed to help boost the immune system, improve digestive health and even reduce the risk of allergies. But while probiotics may be helpful for older children and adults, there’s still a lot we don’t know about their effects on infants.
So far, most of the research on probiotics and infants has been done in babies who are not being breastfed. One study found that probiotics can help improve gut health in breastfed babies, but more research is needed to confirm this.
Another study showed that probiotics may help reduce the risk of eczema in breastfed infants, but only if they are given early on, before the age of six months.
If you’re considering giving your baby probiotics while breastfeeding, it’s important to talk to your doctor first. They can help you decide if probiotics are right for your child and can advise you on the best way to use them.
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