As Hippocrates once stated, “All disease begins in the gut”. Without the proper balance of gut bacteria, it is believed babies may develop colic, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhoea with some sources saying that baby skin issues like eczema, cradle cap, and baby acne are also caused by imbalanced gut flora. But how, why and when should we introduce them to our tiny one's diet?
It has long been believed the gut of a new born is entirely sterile. However, this is not the case. From passing through the birth canal, taking their first breath and bacteria from the skin and clothing of the person who first holds them, babies gather a random selection of bacteria which evolves into a mix that is unique to your baby.
Is believed to be the best way to keep a baby’s gut bacterial population in balance as it not only sustains the infant’s development but also guides the proliferation of a protective intestinal microbiota which in turn helps seal the gut lining and keep it healthy.
However, breastfeeding is not always an option for new mothers and simple things such as a course of antibiotics, increased sugar or starch in a baby's diet or even travelling can upset or indiscriminately obliterate this delicate balance of good bacteria they have been developing since birth.
Disturbances in Baby Gut Health
It has been proven that 80% percent of our immune system resides in
our gut with a large pool of data now also even supporting the brain-gut
In the study 'Enterocolitis in children with development disorders' AJ Wakefiled found that 90% of autistic children studied had chronically inflamed guts as a result of infection with the study strongly advising if a child has autism restoring their gut to good health as vital.
This is a very powerful message for any parent but what can be done to help protect these tiny guts?
Replenishing Beneficial Baby Gut Flora
To support and restore your baby & toddlers gut microflora there are several approaches you can adopt depending on age, weight, weaning stage etc.
The first thing to try and cut back on is sugary or processed foods or drinks - even a daily carton of honest looking fruit juice can contain enough sugar to feed the unfriendly bacteria and disturb the status quo of microflora, especially if the tiny ones are under the weather, on antibiotics, travelling etc.
You may want to try and start introducing natural foods such as whole milk organic yogurts, soaked oats or fermented foods such a spoonful of kefir in their smoothies or breakfast, cultured vegetables or sauerkraut liquid dabbed on your finger may also help to colonise a high level of friendly bacteria in you little one's tummy.
This approach may not be for everyone and another option is to supplement your baby and toddler’s diet with an infant appropriate probiotic. This could be done as a potential cure to upset gut flora or used daily as a preventative method to support the immune system.
Probiotic supplements that are recommended for infants come in the form of drops, powder, or sometimes chewable tablets which can be found online or in health food shops. Please remember to always, always, always talk to your pediatrician before giving baby any supplement.
We started off using Biocare Baby BioFlora (Probiotic) & Children's Strawberry BioAcidophilus (Probiotic) both of which were approved by a senior nutritionist at Great Ormond Street when our own babes where newborns.
We have since moved onto Zita West & My Baba Children’s Multivitamin-Ages 1 to 12 as they also contain a good spectrum of vital vitamins for toddlers too.
Listed below are some other brands which are worth considering if you decide to go down the supplement route:
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