Importance of probiotics. I realize that word is the latest buzz-word and that everyone immediately thinks of probiotics as a supplement in pill form. While vitamins and supplements are great, it’s important to repeat that we should get our nutrients from food FIRST. Each one of us has a very unique gut microbiome that we want to tend to and maintain on a consistent basis. By adding beneficial (good) bacteria to our gut microbiome, we are tending to it! So I encourage you to start feeding your child probiotic-rich foods, such as in the list below, each day.
Aim to get your child’s palate used to the sour taste of fermented foods so that they willingly and regularly eat them. If your child keeps refusing them, I encourage you to continue to offer them at least once a day, even if it sits untouched on their plate. One day (fingers crossed), they will give it a try and hopefully enjoy it.
Examples of probiotic-rich foods are:
- Organic, plain, whole-milk kefir. I personally prefer goat’s milk kefir but when organic and/or grass-fed cow’s milk is on sale, we buy it! Goat’s milk is very similar to the make-up of human milk, making it much easier to digest. Always purchase plain kefir, you can flavor it on your own. Yogurt is another option, just make sure it’s plain, organic and from whole milk.
- Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, pickled veggies, pickles, or kimchi. You could always just offer a taste on their plate, or mix it into their food for flavor! It’s an acquired taste so give them time to warm up to it. A little goes a long way, literally a quarter of a teaspoon is enough.
- Miso paste. This is such a fun thing to have in your fridge to flavor soups, broths or even make marinades or dressings with. Miso is just fermented soy beans that add a dose of probiotics and a blast of salty flavor. While soy products are never recommended by me, fermented soy products are!
- Kombucha…or probiotic juice. Kombucha is a fermented drink that has become increasingly popular. Giving your little one a few sips here and there may be an easy way to get in some helpful bacteria – but always be sure to check the sugar content. If they’re not loving that vinegary taste, there are other probiotic drink options coming out on the market. Most recently I’ve seen Tropicana’s probiotic juice! I quickly rolled my eyes when I saw it but was pleasantly surprised to see that it actually wasn’t too bad. Besides the sugar content and the fact that it’s not organic, it is an easy option to occasionally add a splash of it to your child’s smoothie or water cup when you’re in a pinch or traveling – I wouldn’t recommend for on the regular.
Beyond foods, it’s great to have a probiotic supplement to give your child on days when they didn’t eat/drink any fermented foods, when they’re not feeling well, have recently ended a round of antibiotics, or simply need some tummy (digestive) relief. These are some of my favorite infant/toddler probiotics: (Always be sure to read labels, check if age appropriate and if certain ingredients (dairy, gluten, soy) are present before purchasing.)
- Klaire Labs infant probiotic
- Jarrow-Dophilus infant
- Garden of Life raw probiotic kids
- Flora Udo infant probiotic
- Little Duck Organics – when baby gets older, these gummies are actually a fun way for them to get in some probiotics! I surprise Hanley with them while out shopping or traveling and they’re always gobbled right up.
But please note (and the same applies for your probiotics), each brand/strain may be different from one another, therefore resulting in symptoms. When introducing a new probiotic to your child, notice any changes in bowel movements, gas, bloating, cramping, etc. If one doesn’t work for your child after a few times, try another. Most stores are fine with you returning a supplement that didn’t work for you (or your child), so keep your receipts while trying. I like to rotate probiotics. When Hanley finishes one bottle, I’ll buy another bottle of a brand that has previously worked for him, and so on. I like this article because it has helpful information all about probiotics. Just remember, probiotic-rich foods are where the really helpful bacteria is, more so than any supplement that you can buy.
This information is here to help support your along your child’s health journey and not to replace any medical advice or diagnosis. Be sure to keep in constant contact with your child’s pediatrician and most importantly trust your instincts as a parent. Know that I’m always here for further assistance. Wishing you and your child a happy and healthy gut!
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