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Probiotics and the First Year of Life

What are probiotics?

“Probiotics are live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”

2 mins to read Sep 10, 2019

Not all bacteria makes us sick!

As the definition suggests, the bacteria (live microorganisms) in our gut, form our gut microbiota, and are important for our health.

Some of the jobs these live microorganisms do include:

  • Breaking down dietary fibre, which is otherwise not digested; and 
  • Assisting in maintaining healthy gut flora. 

Your child’s microbiota is at an important time of development: it is important to get the balance of good and bad bacteria right in early life!

Sources of probiotics for infants & toddlers

  • Breast milk – nature’s superfood! Breast milk provides microbes/bacteria to your baby’s gut directly from breastmilk, and from feeding off the breast (skin contact). Breast milk also contains human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) – unique types of prebiotic food that the good bugs prefer. So breast milk not only supplies your little one with healthy bacteria, it also provides the food to feed them as well! 
  • Some toddler milk drinks (from 1 year) contain different types of probiotics. Some contain plant-based prebiotics. 
  • Dairy products such as yoghurt (live-cultured) or kefir. 
  • Supplements in liquid, powder or capsule form.

Check the ingredient list of products and ask your health professional for advice. No matter what form you choose, probiotics need to be consumed regularly to confer a health benefit.

Choosing the right probiotic for your child 

1. Talk to your health professional - Not all probiotics have the same benefits, so talk to your health professional to find the one that meets your baby’s needs. 

2. Consider the age of your child - Breast milk or infant formula should be the sole source of nutrition for infants until around 6 months of age.  
Solid or complementary food sources of probiotics are not suitable before this time.

Storing your probiotics

Some probiotic supplements no longer need to be kept refrigerated, but exposure to high temperatures and humidity may affect their potency. 

Don’t add probiotic powders or capsule contents to very hot foods or beverages, as the heat may destroy the live bacteria.

Always follow manufacturer’s instructions for storage of probiotic product.