How, Why, and When to Introduce Babies to Probiotics
It’s okay if your baby gives you a funny look the first time you give her fermented vegetable juice! Find out why it’s crucial to get her used to the somewhat sour taste of probiotic-rich foods.
When your baby is born, you pay attention to the most obvious visible signs of his or her health, like whether or not she has all her toes and fingers.
In the first critical days after birth, however, one of the most important steps you can take that will determine the health and long-term wellness of your baby will be to ensure the proper development and maintenance of her inner ecosystem.
A healthy inner ecosystem is when your baby’s intestines have the proper balance of beneficial microflora (good bacteria and beneficial yeast). Microflora play an important role in conquering pathogenic viruses, bacteria and yeast. This is Mother Nature’s way of really “vaccinating” your child and building her immunity so she can live safely in this world.
But there’s more!
Besides keeping pathogens under control, microflora also play a vital role in ensuring that your baby digests your milk. This way she will start to thrive on her new food and begin to gain weight quickly now that she is out of your womb.
Because her brain is still very much under development your nutrient-rich milk will help nourish her brain and influence her level of intelligence for the rest of her life. And very importantly the calcium and phosphorus in your milk will help build strong healthy bones and teeth.
The missing link in the health of many babies being born today is establishing the presence of a healthy inner ecosystem where good microflora outnumber the bad.
In order to have a healthy inner ecosystem, a baby depends on his mother to inoculate him with healthy microflora at birth. While this seems easy enough, poor diet and lifestyle habits have robbed today’s women of the healthy microflora so critical for baby’s inner ecosystem.
The good news is, YOU are in charge of your health and you can prepare your baby, naturally, for lifelong health!
Baby’s First Exposure to Bacteria
Until Body Ecology began to uncover important research showing differently it was commonly believed that the amniotic fluid in the womb is sterile and germ-free. However, we now know that the amniotic fluid can be infected. Also as the time of birth approaches and as the cervix begins to dilate in preparation for the birth of your baby bacteria from the birth canal begin to enter into the amniotic fluid. Once labor begins these bacteria also cover the body of your baby.
These bacteria also enter your baby’s digestive tract.
One would hope that there would only be friendly bacteria in the birth canal but if a baby’s mother doesn’t have plenty of good microflora in her own digestive system and vagina, she won’t be able to pass on healthy bacteria to her baby.
Unfortunately, studies show that as many as 85% of women have a vaginal infection when they give birth1 and pass on dangerous pathogens to their newborn babies instead of the beneficial bacteria that create a foundation for wellness.
Babies who lack an abundance of beneficial bacteria at the beginning of their lives start life with painful gastrointestinal pain like gas, colic and reflux. They can also have infant constipation. They do not develop the necessary immunity and do not have the ability to cleanse out inherited toxins from their parents and grandparents.
Because 80% of the immune system is located in the gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), babies who do not quickly develop a healthy inner ecosystem in their gut have weakened immunity. They are also more vulnerable to allergies and other more serious problems, including autism
For more information on why your inner ecosystem’s health is so important in preventing childhood diseases, and what you can do, read: What Every Girl and Woman Needs to Know NOW if They Ever Want to Have a Baby
Probiotics in the Prevention of Allergies
More than half of developing countries have children with allergy related problems , and eliminating this problem requires intervention in infancy. It doesn’t surprise me that the increase in allergic diseases is being linked to the lack of an optimal inner ecosystem observable in infants within the first week of their lives.3
During the first few hours after birth babies have a permeable gut lining so that they can fully benefit from the nourishment of mother’s first milk, called “colostrum”.
After these first few hours, a protective barrier begins to form on a baby’s mucosal lining. Beneficial bacteria and good yeast colonize in this mucosal layer and play an essential role in reinforcing this protective barrier.
This period of colonization is extremely important, and highly dependent on your baby’s nutrition during the first few months of life because the earliest bacteria to arrive into their intestines have a distinct advantage in colonizing their inner ecosystem, and in building their immunity4.
If the barrier formed on your baby’s gut lining is not effective enough, or lacking in good microflora, food and toxins leak into the blood.
In this case, a baby’s little body reacts as if the food is a “foreign invader”, and creates antibodies against the food, which leads to “food allergies”.
Giving your baby beneficial bacteria soon after birth can ensure proper colonization of healthy microflora in their intestines, and prevent food allergies that are so common today.
Other benefits of giving your baby probiotics include:
- Prevention of necrotising enterocolitis (death of intestinal tissue), which is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders in premature babies4.
- Prevention of fevers and diarrhea – According to an Israeli study, infants given formula containing probiotics had half as many bouts of fever and diarrhea than those given regular formula5
- Increased immune response in infants infected with the rotavirus, and decrease in the duration of rotavirus associated diarrhea6
- Reduced likelihood that your baby will develop atopic eczema, an allergic skin condition which is more common in infancy and linked to other allergic disorders including asthma7
Is Breast Milk Best?
As long as a mother is supplying her own body with excellent nutrients, her milk is the gold standard for her baby’s nutrition.
Yet some mother’s I have spoken to have been told when their baby is colicky he is allergic to her breast milk!
Mother Nature couldn’t possibly make this kind of mistake. This is simply a clue that your baby’s inner ecosystem is lacking the healthy microflora needed to digest breast milk.
Giving your baby probiotics is especially important if you are unable to breastfeed your baby due to your own compromised health, or if you have decided that breastfeeding is just not right for you.
If you are not breastfeeding, please, make sure you are aware of the serious disadvantages of baby formulas by reading: Baby Formula: The Key Health Risks to Baby that Every Mother and Someday Mother to Be Needs to Know.
How and When to Give Your Baby Probiotics
With Body Ecology Culture Starter you can easily prepare your own delicious cultured vegetables at home, and give your baby the juice while you eat the vegetables!
My recommendation to all mothers is to introduce your baby to fermented foods and drinks by gradually feeding them small amounts.
Many less modernized cultures around the world have long known about the benefits of fermented foods and drinks in baby nutrition. Russians give their babies milk kefir diluted with water when they’re as young as 4 months old.
Cultured vegetables contain Lactobacillus plantarum, a strain of friendly bacteria that is very effective in the treatment of colic, and crucial to the development of a healthy inner ecosystem.
Gradually, as soon as your baby is a few days old, start giving him a tiny baby spoonful of juice from the cultured vegetables, 3 times a day.
Don’t forget to eat cultured vegetables yourself for the health of your immune system too!
If you give the cultured vegetable juice to your baby about 10 to 20 minutes before their feeding, you can help them digest mother’s milk.
Fermented drinks like Young Coconut Kefir diluted with filtered water, are also great to give to your baby in tiny teaspoon amounts.
Once your baby is old enough for a little more variety in their diet, you can prepare them pureed fermented vegetables by using our Body Ecology Culture Starter. Just puree organic vegetables first, and then ferment them.
As you can see, The Body Ecology system of health and healing is not just for adults!
Just ask Deborah Wieder, who at 41 was the first time mother of a vibrant, happy baby last year. She attributes her easy pregnancy to the Body Ecology consultations she had with me early in her pregnancy, and continues to give CocoBiotic to her beautiful daughter, Maayan, every day!
Every child needs to have a strong inner ecosystem to help them become a healthier, more vibrant human being, with strong immunity. Giving them probiotics is the best way to give them the advantage that so many children today are sadly lacking.
If you know someone else who has a baby, or is hoping to have one, please pass along this important information.
Healthier parents create healthier, happier babies and a brighter future for all of us.
- The most common vaginal infections are: candidiasis (75%), bacterial vaginosis (16%) and trichomoniasis. Hamilton, Carey. Bacterial vaginosis often goes untreated. The Salt Lake Tribune. December 2006. http://www.sltrib.com/healthscience/ci_4820799 and Vaginitis Due to Vaginal Infections. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. October 2004. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/factsheets/vaginitis.htm
- Probiotics in Primary Prevention of Atopic Disease.
- Effects of Intestinal Microflora and the Environment in the Development of Asthma and Allergy.
- Toll of Allergy Reduced by Probiotics.
- Probiotics Could Improve Premature Babies’ Gut Health.
- Probiotic formula may bolster infant immune system.
- Probiotics in the primary prevention of atopic disease: a randomised placebo controlled trial.