How, when & why 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. Getting her used to the somewhat sour taste of probiotic-rich foods can set her up for success, supporting a lifetime of inner wellness.
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 wellbeing 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 microbes (good bacteria and beneficial yeast).
Microbes 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.
To nurture a healthy baby, is this the missing piece?
Besides keeping pathogens under control, microbes are also vital in helping to ensure that your baby digests your milk. This way, she’ll start to thrive on her new food and begin to gain weight quickly now that she’s 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 microbes outnumber the bad.
In order to have a healthy inner ecosystem, a baby depends on her mother to inoculate her with healthy microbes at birth. While this seems easy enough, poor diet and lifestyle habits have robbed today’s women of the healthy microbes so critical for a baby’s inner ecosystem.
The good news is, you are in charge of your health, and you can prepare your baby, naturally, for lifelong wellness.
Until Body Ecology began to uncover important research showing differently, it was commonly believed that the amniotic fluid in the womb was sterile and germ-free. However, we now know that 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 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 microbes in her own digestive system and vagina, she won’t be able to pass on healthy bacteria to her baby.
Unfortunately, as many as 30 percent of pregnant women may have bacterial vaginosis (BV), an unhealthy vaginal microbiome, and potentially pass on dangerous pathogens to their newborn babies instead of the beneficial bacteria that create a foundation for wellness.1
Babies who lack an abundance of beneficial bacteria at the beginning of their lives may start life with painful gastrointestinal pain like gas, colic, and reflux. They may also have infant constipation. They may not develop the necessary immunity or have the ability to cleanse out inherited toxins from their parents and grandparents.
Because about 70 percent 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 may have weakened immunity.2 They may also be more vulnerable to allergies and other serious problems, including potential for autism.3,4
Can probiotics really help to prevent childhood allergies?
More than half of developing countries have children with allergy-related problems, and eliminating this problem requires intervention in infancy. It’s unsurprising that the increase in allergic diseases has been linked to the lack of an optimal inner ecosystem observable in infants within the first week of their lives.5
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. This is because the earliest bacteria to arrive into her intestines have a distinct advantage in colonizing her inner ecosystem, and in building her immunity.6
If the barrier formed on your baby’s gut lining is not effective enough — or lacking in good microbes — 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 microbes in her intestines and help prevent food allergies that are so common today.
Other benefits of giving your baby probiotics include helping to:
- Prevent necrotizing enterocolitis (death of intestinal tissue), which is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders in premature babies.7
- Prevent fevers and diarrhea – According to a 2005 Israeli study, infants given formula containing probiotics had half as many bouts of fever and diarrhea as those given regular formula.8
- Reduce likelihood that your baby will develop atopic eczema, an allergic skin condition which is more common in infancy and linked to other allergic disorders that include asthma.9
- Remedy infant colic – In a 2019 trial, Italian researchers found that probiotic drops helped decrease daily crying duration by more than half in 80 percent of the babies studied; infant sleep was also positively affected.10
- Support immune response in infants infected with the rotavirus and decrease the duration of rotavirus-associated diarrhea.11
With Body Ecology’s Culture Starter, you can easily prepare your own delicious cultured veggies at home. Then, give your baby the juice while you eat the vegetables.
So, is breast milk best for your baby? 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 mothers have been told that when their baby is colicky, she is allergic to their 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 microbes needed to digest breast milk. Giving your baby probiotics is especially important if you’re unable to breastfeed due to your own compromised health, or if you have decided that breastfeeding is just not right for you.
Exactly how and when to give your baby probiotics
Our recommendation to all mothers is to introduce your baby to fermented foods and drinks by gradually feeding her 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.
- You can begin introducing your baby to the sour taste of fermented foods right away by putting a little cultured vegetable juice on your finger and letting her suck on it.
- Cultured vegetables contain Lactobacillus plantarum, a strain of friendly bacteria that is very effective in helping relieve colic and crucial to the development of a healthy inner ecosystem.
- Gradually, as soon as your baby is a few days old, start giving her a tiny spoonful of juice from the cultured vegetables, three times a day.
Don’t forget to eat cultured vegetables yourself for the health of your immune system too.
If you give cultured vegetable juice to your baby about 10 to 20 minutes before her feeding, you can help her 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 her diet, you can prepare her puréed fermented vegetables by using our Body Ecology Culture Starter. Just purée organic vegetables first, and then ferment them.
As you can see, The Body Ecology System of Health and Healing isn’t just for adults. Just ask Deborah Wieder, a member of our Body Ecology community who, at 41, was the first-time mother of a happy baby. She attributes her easy pregnancy to the Body Ecology consultations she had 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 gives 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.
- 1. “Bacterial Vaginosis During Pregnancy.” American Pregnancy Association, 2020.
- 2. Vighi G, Marcucci F, Sensi L, Di Cara G, Frati F. Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clin Exp Immunol. 2008;153 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):3-6. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x.
- 3. Linda Wampach, Anna Heintz-Buschart, Joëlle V. Fritz, Javier Ramiro-Garcia, Janine Habier, Malte Herold, Shaman Narayanasamy, Anne Kaysen, Angela H. Hogan, Lutz Bindl, Jean Bottu, Rashi Halder, Conny Sjöqvist, Patrick May, Anders F. Andersson, Carine de Beaufort, Paul Wilmes. Birth mode is associated with earliest strain-conferred gut microbiome functions and immunostimulatory potential. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-07631-x.
- 4. Dae-Wook Kang, James B. Adams, Devon M. Coleman, Elena L. Pollard, Juan Maldonado, Sharon McDonough-Means, J. Gregory Caporaso, Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown. Long-term benefit of Microbiota Transfer Therapy on autism symptoms and gut microbiota. Scientific Reports, 2019; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-42183-0.
- 5. Björkstén B. Effects of intestinal microflora and the environment on the development of asthma and allergy. Springer Semin Immunopathol. 2004 Feb;25(3-4):257-70. doi: 10.1007/s00281-003-0142-2. Epub 2003 Oct 24. PMID: 15007630.
- 6. Murch SH. Toll of allergy reduced by probiotics. Lancet. 2001 Apr 7;357(9262):1057-9. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(00)04305-1. PMID: 11297952.
- 7. Robertson C, Savva GM, Clapuci R, et alIncidence of necrotising enterocolitis before and after introducing routine prophylactic Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probioticsArchives of Disease in Childhood – Fetal and Neonatal Edition 2020;105:380-386.
- 8. Weizman Z, Asli G, Alsheikh A. Effect of a probiotic infant formula on infections in child care centers: comparison of two probiotic agents. Pediatrics. 2005 Jan;115(1):5-9. doi: 10.1542/peds.2004-1815. PMID: 15629974.
- 9. Schmidt RM, Pilmann Laursen R, Bruun S, Larnkjaer A, Mølgaard C, Michaelsen KF, Høst A. Probiotics in late infancy reduce the incidence of eczema: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2019 May;30(3):335-340. doi: 10.1111/pai.13018. Epub 2019 Feb 21. PMID: 30790361.
- 10. Rita Nocerino, Francesca De Filippis, Gaetano Cecere, Antonio Marino, Maria Micillo, Carmen Di Scala, Carmen de Caro, Antonio Calignano, Cristina Bruno, Lorella Paparo, Anna M. Iannicelli, Linda Cosenza, Ylenia Maddalena, Giusy della Gatta, Serena Coppola, Laura Carucci, Danilo Ercolini, Roberto Berni Canani. The therapeutic efficacy of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12® in infant colic: A randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/apt.15561.
- 11. Ahmadi E, Alizadeh-Navaei R, Rezai MS. Efficacy of probiotic use in acute rotavirus diarrhea in children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Caspian J Intern Med. 2015;6(4):187-195.