Find out how infant probiotics can improve baby’s long-term health, plus discover which baby probiotics are best.
- Written by Genevieve Howland
- Medically reviewed by Elisa Song, MD
- Medically reviewed by Kendra Tolbert, MS, RDN
- Updated on May 26, 2020
But in some cases, we may need to do more. Baby probiotics, whether in food or supplement form, just might be one of the best things you can give baby to support his or her health.
On this page…
- What are baby probiotics?
- Do babies need probiotics?
- Benefits of baby probiotics
- Best baby probiotics
- How to give probiotics to infants
- Other great sources of probiotics for infants
- Common questions about baby probiotics
- Bottom line on probiotics for infants
Best baby probiotics – quick recommendations
Keep scrolling through this post and you’ll see I recommend foods as well as baby probiotics as the best way to provide beneficial bacteria. But if you’re looking for a quick overview of the supplements I recommend, here you go.GutPro Infant Probiotic PowderWhile this probiotic ain’t cheap, it does have the best reviews and reputation. I know many moms who have used it with great success for everything from skin issues to digestion to mood.— Check it Out —GutPro Infant Probiotic PowderWellBelly Probiotic for Infants & KidsThis is a whole food based infant and child probiotic. It contains the big three strains mentioned in this article, plus 6 additional strains of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.— Check it Out —WellBelly by WellFuture infant and child probioticChildren’s Probonix Probiotic DropsWhile there are some unnecessary ingredients in this formulation, it has a nice blend of native probiotic strains specific to infants (including the 3 super strains). Good Amazon reviews too.— Check it Out —Children’s Probonix DropsUpSpring Baby ProbioticThis baby probiotic contains six strains, including Lactobacilillus and Bifidobacterium in a colostrum powder base. Good price point and reviews too.— Check it Out —UpSpring Baby Probiotic for Kids with Colostrum
What Are Baby Probiotics?
A probiotic is a live bacteria that provides health benefits, particularly for your gut.
Baby probiotics are exactly what they sound like—probiotics that are safe and specially formulated for babies.
Get free updates on baby’s first year!SIGN ME UP!
Why Are Probiotics Important?
Let’s back up for a second to talk about why you’d want to take probiotics.
Our bodies are full of bacteria. And although that may sound like a bad thing, less than one percent of bacteria makes us sick. (source) Other bacteria in our systems are considered “good bacteria,” since they are vital for our bodies to function and play a key role in keeping us healthy.
Probiotics ensure that our systems have enough good bacteria to function the way they are intended to.
Do Babies Need Probiotics?
Amniotic fluid is not sterile—it’s your baby’s first introduction to bacteria. And the kind of bacteria in the amniotic fluid is influenced by mom’s gut and oral flora.
In a perfect world, moms would have great flora to pass onto their babies. But over the last century, we have been subjected to antibiotics, GMOs, sugary/starchy diets, and lots of processed foods—all of which can degrade the gut flora passed onto our babies.
Baby probiotics are a baby’s first line of defense, since they help to improve the balance of “good bacteria” in their body.
Benefits of Baby Probiotics
Because baby probiotics increase the amount of good bacteria in the body, they do wonders for overall health, but are especially helpful for:
✔ Digestive issues
Without the proper balance of gut bacteria, baby may have colic, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, or develop more serious digestive issues like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s Disease. A study found that fecal transplant in adults (placing a bit of “healthy” poo into the colon of an unhealthy person) cured 91-93 percent of patients with C. difficile. This supports the idea that good gut flora can treat and prevent digestive issues—and why we may want to use probiotics for infants.
✔ Immune system issues
Eighty percent of our immune system resides in our gut, so it makes sense that sub-optimal gut flora would cause an ill-functioning immune system. When gut bacteria isn’t optimal, baby’s immune system is not going to be optimal. That means baby will be more likely to catch colds, flus, and other illnesses. We can ward off some of these issues with the use of probiotics for babies.
There is a large pool of data supporting the gut-brain connection. In fact, 80-90 percent of the serotonin (the feel-good hormone) and dopamine (a neurotransmitter that helps regulate the brain’s pleasure center) in our bodies is made in our gut.
One study found that certain probiotic species reduce anxiety and depression, increase dopamine and serotonin production, and work better than conventional drugs at reducing stress-induced anxiety, depression, and cognitive dysfunction. They also work to lower cortisol and restore serotonin levels to normal.
Another study found that different gut bacteria can actually change a mouse from timid to bold and vice-versa. Further, researchers found that if corrected early enough, good bacteria could help reverse the mouse pup’s anxiety; but if they were weaned by the time they got the good bacteria, they continued to have high levels of anxiety. Of course, mouse trials don’t directly correlate to humans, but the results are interesting and support what we do know about baby’s gut flora needs.
✔ Weight problems
Probiotics for infants may even impact your baby’s weight. (Strange as it sounds!) One study found that mice with a TLR5 deficiency (a protein that keeps gut flora balanced) had excessive weight gain, insulin resistance, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. What was really interesting is that the researchers transplanted some fecal matter from the overweight mice to skinny mice and the skinny mice started eating more, gaining weight, and eventually developed the metabolic issues of the TLR5 deficient mice. Long story short, the weight and metabolic issues of these mice were a direct result of bad gut bacteria.
✔ Skin issues
Baby’s skin is particularly sensitive and some sources say that baby skin issues like baby eczema, cradle cap, and baby acne are caused by imbalanced gut flora. Studies suggest supplementing with with L. rhamnosus, L. paracasei , and B. longum while pregnant and nursing can significantly reduce the risk of eczema in infants.
This is further supported by countless studies that prove a correlation between acne and digestive issues. In fact, acne patients have considerably more leaky gut issues and inflammation than those without acne. Another study found that suboptimal gut flora also contributed to the skin being less efficient as a protective organ and more susceptible to inflammation and infection.
Best Baby Probiotics
There are two main types of baby probiotics: powdered and liquid. Powdered baby probiotics are more prevalent, but some parents find it easier to administer liquid probiotics with a syringe or dropper.
Here are four baby probiotics that I can recommend.GutPro Infant Probiotic PowderWhile this probiotic ain’t cheap, it does have the best reviews and reputation. I know many moms who have used it with great success for everything from skin issues to digestion to mood.— Check it Out —GutPro Infant Probiotic PowderWellBelly Probiotic for Infants & KidsThis is a whole food based infant and child probiotic. It contains the big three strains mentioned in this article, plus 6 additional strains of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.— Check it Out —WellBelly by WellFuture infant and child probioticChildren’s Probonix Probiotic DropsWhile there are some unnecessary ingredients in this formulation, it has a nice blend of native probiotic strains specific to infants (including the 3 super strains). Good Amazon reviews too.— Check it Out —Children’s Probonix DropsUpSpring Baby ProbioticThis baby probiotic contains six strains, including Lactobacilillus and Bifidobacterium in a colostrum powder base. Good price point and reviews too.— Check it Out —UpSpring Baby Probiotic for Kids with Colostrum
Best strains of probiotics for babies
Researchers of an Australian study found that the best probiotics for infants were ones that included 2-3 strains or species of probiotics (instead of just one). Here are the top three to look for:
1. B. bifidum is one of the first strains to colonize baby’s intestines and adheres to the intestinal wall better than other strains. It continues to be an important bacteria for digestion and nutrient absorption. It may help with infant skin conditions like baby eczema and yeast infections. It may also help with infant digestive issues such as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), IBS, constipation, diarrhea, and even lung infections.
2. B. infantis is the strain that is most prevalent and powerful in infants and declines as we age. In fact, a new (and alarming) study shows that this strain may be going extinct in the Western world. This is a huge issue, as it crowds out pathogenic bacteria and helps with overall health and digestion. One review found that B. Infantis can reduce inflammation and support immune function.
3. L. reuteri is a strain that has been found to have many benefits for young children and infants. One study found that children ages 6 months to 3 years who took supplemental L. rheuteri had nearly one third fewer cases of diarrhea and half as many respiratory infections. Another study suggests that L. rheuteri is an excellent treatment for colic. It was also found to reduce the levels of bacteria that cause tooth decay!
How to Give Probiotics to Infants
Always, always, always talk to your pediatrician before giving baby any supplement. Also, always start slow with probiotics and watch for any bowel or behavior changes.
There are a few ways you can provide baby with probiotics:
How to give baby powdered probiotics
- Following the dosage suggestions on the particular product, add powdered probiotics to breast milk or formula.
- Alternatively, you can put the powdered probiotics directly on your breasts before feeding. To do so, apply my DIY nipple cream, then sprinkle the probiotic powder directly on top.
- When baby is eating solids, mix powdered probiotics into baby’s water cup or food.
How to give baby liquid probiotics
- Following the dosage suggestions on the particular product, add liquid probiotics to a little breast milk or formula.
- Alternatively, use a syringe to put liquid probiotics directly into baby’s mouth. This way baby is not getting any additional water (which can cause an imbalance in his or her electrolytes).
Other Great Sources of Probiotics for Infants
In addition to probiotic supplements, baby can great probiotics from:
Breastfeeding is the best way to keep baby’s gut lining intact and healthy. Your milk will supply baby with probiotics and immunoglobulin A (IgA), which helps seal the gut lining. For the greatest benefits, consume plenty of probiotic-rich fermented foods, like kefir, raw sauerkraut and pickles, yogurt, miso, etc. This will help enrich your own bacterial balance, which will help your milk and baby.SaveMama NaturalWondering about probiotics for infants? Probiotics can improve baby’s long term health. Here’s why they are so important, plus and which…3Mama NaturalMama Natural ☝Best Blog Posts
And if you can’t or don’t want to breastfeed, there are formula options that can still help keep baby’s gut healthy.
Breast milk yogurt
Food is the best way to boost your good bacteria, especially for young children with delicate systems.
Obviously, we can’t give babies true solids until around 6 months old, but we can give them one food at a very young age: Breast milk yogurt.
- Mix about an ounce of breast milk with 1/8 teaspoon of infant probiotics.
- Let the mixture sit on the counter overnight.
- Feed to baby with a spoon.
Of course, always check with your child’s pediatrician before giving to your child.
When baby is old enough for solids, add naturally-fermented foods to his or her diet. Feeding them early will help baby develop a taste for sour and fermented foods.
- Start with just the juice of these probiotic powerhouses—sauerkraut or pickle juice, for example. Use a spoon or mix them into puree.
- As baby gets use to solids, add in small amounts of kefir or yogurt.
- Gradually continue introducing other fermented foods, eventually serving baby all the fermented foods you love.
Common Questions About Baby Probiotics
Are probiotics safe for infants?
Studies show that probiotics are not only safe, but very effective in reducing daily crying time, spit up, and constipation during the first three months of life.
Probiotics or prebiotics added to infant formula and other foods marketed for use in children do not appear to be harmful to healthy infants and children. – AAP
Still, it is very important to talk to your pediatrician before giving baby anything but breast milk.
Can probiotics cause upset tummies in babies?
Quite the contrary. Clinical trials suggest baby probiotics actually soothe upset tummies. In fact, babies taking probiotics had fewer emergency department visits, needed less medication for stomach problems, had more regular bowel movements, and spit up less.
Can baby probiotics cause gas?
According to researchers, probiotics may actually help reduce gas in babies. Studies suggest babies the bacterial makeup is different in the stomachs of babies with colic, and researchers hypothesize that these differences may cause gas, bloating, and discomfort that leads to colic.
In a review of 12 studies to examine the effects of probiotics, researchers found that infants taking probiotics cried for about an hour less each day—possibly as a result of less gas pain.
Can you give a baby too much probiotics?
Always follow the dosage information on your probiotic supplement, and be sure to get your doctor’s approval.
It may, however, give you peace of mind to know that, according to the AAFP, “there is no evidence that higher dosages are unsafe; however, they may be more expensive and unnecessary.”
Bottom Line on Probiotics for Infants
Imbalanced gut flora can be inherited, and may cause serious health issues in the future. Adding probiotics for infants to baby’s diet, either through food or supplementation, can help your baby have the best possible start.