We’ve talked about probiotics for grown-ups and the helping hand they can provide for everything from better digestion to brighter moods to a healthy immune system. But, is what’s good for the goose good for the gosling? Yes! Probiotics can absolutely give your little ones a helping hand, especially in some specific instances. Let’s take a look at probiotics for children, and when probiotics might help your little ones stay healthy and happy.
When probiotics can help your kiddos
Talk to your pediatrician about giving your little ones probiotic supplements in the following cases:
If they weren’t breastfed
We’ve all heard the old saying ‘breast is best’; and while it’s unnecessarily judgy and mom-shamey, there is some truth to it when it comes to your bub’s immune system. Healthy gut bacteria help develop the mucosal immune system in the gut, helping to produce antibodies to fight off infection. Gut colonization starts at birth, with a hand from mom’s breast milk: breast milk contains probiotics, which are then passed to the baby. But the fact is that breastfeeding just isn't an option for all moms, and that’s absolutely fine; at the end of the day, ‘fed is best’. If your baby was formula fed, a probiotic is a great way to make sure they’re still getting those immune-boosting bacteria as they grow up.
When they’ve taken antibiotics
Kids can be tiny germ factories, which means your little one might be prescribed a round of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill all those bad, infection-causing germs - but they also take out the good gut bacteria, throwing that delicate intestinal bacteria balance right out of whack. Probiotics both during and after a round of antibiotics is a great way to build those good bacteria back up again, keeping your little one’s gut flora balanced.
Furthermore, one of the side effects of broad-spectrum antibiotics is diarrhoea. Lactobacillus might be helpful in reducing that antibiotic-associated diarrhoea by up to an entire day, and can also help lessen the associated symptoms like cramping, bloating, and gas, to help your child be more comfortable. If you do give your kids probiotics while they’re on antibiotics to help with diarrhoea, it’s best to space them out to give the probiotics time to get comfortable before the next batch of antibiotics gets in there. Probiotics 3-4 hours before the antibiotics should do the trick!
Beyond diarrhoea, probiotics might be able to help little ones with chronic conditions like IBS or Crohn’s Disease by helping reduce common symptoms like bloating, gas, and abdominal pain. If your little one has one of these chronic conditions, chat with your doctor to see if probiotics can help make them more comfortable.
Probiotics might be able to help if your little cutie gets bouts of atopic eczema. Studies have shown that two strains in particular, Lactobacillus paracasei (LP) and Lactobacillus fermentum (LF), can help reduce all kinds of icky symptoms including dryness, redness and oozing. The little ones given the probiotic also found affected areas getting smaller, leading to them feeling better about their skin — and a little happier!
When probiotics can’t help your kiddos
While probiotics can absolutely help support your little ones, it’s important to remember that they’re a helping hand, not a miracle cure. And, as with anything related to your children, always speak to your pediatrician, naturopath, or other qualified health professional to make sure probiotics are the right course of action for your littles.