What are the best probiotics for infants and toddlers?
The bacteria in our gut are some of the most important for our body to function well. These healthy bacteria aid in digestion and support our immune system. When it comes to your kids, you want to support those good bacteria in a way that is best for them.
That means finding a quality probiotic that caters specifically to infants and toddlers. I've looked through some of the best and compiled a list to help you find the best probiotics for infants and toddlers.
What does it do?
To truly understand the how probiotics work their magic, we need to have a teeny-tiny biology lesson. Every person's intestinal tract is unique. This means that our bodies are the best ones to determine what kinds of bacteria and how much are needed.
There are trillions of good, bad, and benign bacteria living in the GI tract already. Probiotics introduce good bacteria (or flora), which then fight for space against the bad bacteria.
The more good bacteria you have, the better your digestion. You have less gas and bloating, a healthier immune system, and often times, clearer skin.
For children, the benefits include better digestion, healthier skin and hair, and the ability to fight off those awful viruses that spread around nurseries and play centers.
That's really the gist of it.
This video does a good job at explaining what probiotics do, as well, and why they are beneficial for your child.
It is important to note, too, that probiotics can have some not so pleasant side effects. Some of the side effects are very natural, and result from your GI tract being thrown out of balance. This causes less water to be absorbed by food and results in occasional diarrhea.
It is possible, too, to have too much probiotic in your system. The side effects of this are simply bloating, gas, and potential pain in the lower abdomen. This isn't something that should scare you away. If you have concerns, speak to your family doctor about the appropriate dosage of probiotics for your child.
Is this for me?
As parents, we want to make sure our children are living the healthiest and most fulfilled lives possible. It can be intimidating when we see supplements like probiotics.
Probiotics are just a natural way of increasing the good bacteria in our guts. They help people of all ages digest better and have a healthier immune system.
Doctors suggest that babies born pre-term or through cesarean section, or babies that are formula fed, benefit the most from probiotic supplements. When a baby is born vaginally, he or she gets the mother's good bacteria.
He or she also continues receive good bacteria via breastfeeding. Breastfeeding also supplies substances called prebiotics. If your child was unable to get healthy bacteria through those methods, taking a probiotic supplement can be of great value.
If your child is like my son, sometimes he needs just a little more of a boost, regardless of how he entered the world. Probiotics can help with colic, diarrhea, eczema, intestinal problems, and, as I experienced, diaper rash. So even infants and toddles that have a strong supply of good bacteria could benefit from taking a probiotic.
Which one do I need?
It may surprise you, but not all probiotics are the same. Some offer different nutrients and types of bacteria and target separate areas of the GI tract. The most popular types of probiotic bacteria are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
This genus includes 18 different strains of bacteria and primarily resides in the small intestine.
Having 8 different strains of bacteria, this genus primarily resides in your colon.
This video also describes other components of probiotics, including food for the bacteria.
All of this information may seem a bit overwhelming, so here are some basic takeaways to boil it down a bit:
How to Choose Your Probiotic
Decide whether you would like to aid in healing diaper rash, colic, or intestinal issues, or if you just want to provide a natural supplement to aid in the good things already going on. Also decide if you want a probiotic that focuses on the intestines, colon, or one that caters to the whole GI tract.
How to Use Your Probiotic
There are different ways to get your child's probiotic into their system. Your best choices are between powders and liquids, which can be added to drinks, yogurts, or snacks. Take a look at your child's daily routine, diet, and personal preferences and decide which would work best for you.
How to Monitor Your Probiotic
While overdosing on a probiotic is an uncommon occurrence, you can play it safe by talking with your family doctor or pediatrician to better understand how much and how often you should give your child a probiotic.
Now that you are a professional in probiotics, let's look at some of the best ones on the market
While all of these probiotics have satisfied customers and children that are now digesting and feeling much better, I think the best probiotic for infants and toddlers is Zahler Kidophilus. Zahler's supplement provides your child with the healthy bacteria he or she needs to digest food better and strengthen their immune system, while not creating a fight over taking it or breaking the bank.
Its price, at a little under $20, is very reasonable considering that other brands, like iHealth Culturelle, comes in only 30 servings. Zahler's can last up to 48 days if used once a day. And while it may have a more manufactured taste and smell, most find their children enjoyed the taste and showed little to no complaint at taking it daily. The Probonix Probiotic, on the other hand, had a grape flavor that many stated was not very good.