(NaturalNews) When it comes to giving baby the best start in life, probiotics isn`t usually the first word to come to mind. However, the gut of babies is the center of their immune system and will affect their health every day for the rest of their lives. Nourishing the delicate ecosystem in your baby`s gastrointestinal tract is one of the most important ways you can protect your baby`s health, and infant probiotic supplements may be just what the doctor ordered.
Starting Life With a Compromised Gut
Babies inherit gut flora from their mother via the birth canal. If the mother has gut imbalances, so will baby. The balance of flora in babies' guts plays a crucial role in their immunity, their brain development and their digestion. Digestive difficulties will manifest as allergies, bloating, gas, constipation, colic and reflux. These may be signs of poor gut health that can affect other areas of your baby`s health and development.
Scientific Research Confirms Importance of Probiotics for Babies
- A study in Italy found that supplementing with probiotics reduced symptoms of colic in 95 perfect of infants who participated.
- A similar Swedish study found probiotics reduced crying time in colicky infants.
- Researchers in Finland concluded that probiotics administered to infants reduced the incidence of respiratory illness.
- Other research indicates that probiotic supplements given to pre-term infants may promote weight gain.
Building An Army of Good Bacteria
If you suspect your baby has gut imbalances, probiotic supplements for infants provide the good bacteria needed to establish a colony of beneficial flora in your baby`s gastrointestinal system. By treating the problem as early as possible, you pave the way for your baby to have a strong digestive system and immune system. Both of these systems are the foundation of healthy growth and development in children, since illness and poor digestion rob the body of energy that should be spent growing healthy brains and bodies.
Using Probiotics for Infants
- A probiotic specially designed for infants should be used for babies, since they require different amounts and strains of flora than adults.
- Probiotics should be given with food to increase absorption and aid digestion.
- Probiotics from food sources (such as naturally cultured sauerkraut juice) are also recommended as baby becomes old enough to introduce solid foods. Continue to introduce probiotic foods to your child as appropriate for age and development.
- Probiotics--whether in food or supplement form--should always be introduced slowly to avoid die-off symptoms that occur when pathogenic bacteria are killed off rapidly.
- Breastmilk contains beneficial bacteria that helps establish healthy gut flora, especially if the mother`s gut health is in good shape. Breastfeeding is always recommended whenever possible.
Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more: www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2009/10/welco...