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Probiotics—it’s one of those fancy new health words that we don’t quite understand, but are told is good for us. Recently, probiotic supplements have risen to immense popularity in the health-supplement world. Television commercials, magazine advertisements, and the internet are praising the wonderful benefits of probiotic supplements for our bodies. They're important to take to supplement your favorite gummy vitamins and essential oils.
Although we, as adults, might give probiotics a try without thinking twice (they’re supposed to be good for us, right?), as parents, we tend to be a little more cautious about giving our children a supplement since they can react differently than adults.
If you’re a parent who is thinking about trying out a probiotic supplement for you precious little one, keep reading this article for background information on probiotics, what to look for when purchasing probiotic supplements, and places where you can purchase the right kind of probiotic for your child.
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Probiotics are actually a type of live bacteria. Don’t worry, though, certain types of bacteria, or microorganisms, are actually good for our bodies. In fact, probiotics are one of those “good bacteria.” Specifically, probiotics contain two microorganisms: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These long, fancy words simply mean bacteria that aid our bodies in the processes of digestion and give our intestines a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria. Naturally, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are found in foods such as yogurt and cottage cheese.
According to Dr. Rabitz, a pediatric dentist in San Jose, probiotics are good for children and some infants because they fight harmful germs that can enter the intestines. Importantly, if your child has recently been sick and has taken any antibiotics, probiotics are often co-prescribed because they help replenish the good intestinal bacteria that the antibiotic may have wiped out.
Furthermore, they lessen the spread of diarrhea outbreaks in daycare settings because they work to shed off the virus remaining in the stool of sick children, such as rotavirus. Lastly, probiotics also produce healthy fats that nourish important cells within the large intestine. Making sure to take probiotics in addition to magnesium rich foods is a great way to ensure a healthy diet and immune system.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, although probiotics are likely very safe, it is important to check with your doctor before starting your child on a probiotic supplement. Furthermore, the Federal Drug Administration actually doesn’t approve probiotic supplements before they’re marketed.
However, according to Brooke Alpert, a registered dietician, any probiotic containing Lactobacillus GG is the safest simply because it is the most scientifically studied. Probiotics are especially risky if your child has an immune deficiency disease or if they are taking any medication that suppresses their immune system. Ultimately, check with your pediatrician before giving your child a probiotic supplement.
The following probiotics are the highest-ranked probiotics for both children and infants according to Google and Amazon:
Tablet form that comes in fun chewable animal shapes. This children’s probiotic is gluten-free with a mixed berry flavor. The different animal shapes make it fun for children to take. It contains pure FOS for prebiotics and 2 strains of live bacteria to enhance healthy intestinal flora growth.
Designed for children aged 4 and up. This probiotic is perfect for families with allergy concerns. These cranberry-flavored gummies are shelf-stable and contain no gluten, soy, yeast, milk, eggs, nuts, fish, or shellfish. Each serving contains 1 billion CFU Bio-Active Probiotics. The live bacteria Lactobacillus Sporogenes encourages healthy flora growth. These gummies also contain prebiotics from inulin and FOS.
Protects kids’ teeth as it is sweetened with Xylitol. This tablet has a natural berry flavor with no artificial colors, sweeteners, or preservatives. Dairy-, soy-, and gluten-free, Ultimate Flora Kids is packed with 3 billion live cultures in each daily tablet, with 6 kid-friendly strains of probiotics.
These come in a flavorless powder form, which makes it easy to mix into drinks or sprinkle on foods that children enjoy. Packed with 5 billion live healthy bacteria cells per packet, this formula is dairy-free. One serving supplies the recommended amount, which is why it's definitely earned its number 4 spot here.
Culturelle is the brand most recommended by pediatricians. It’s supposed to be great for kids who are very active. Keeping your kid active is very important for his/her health and will promote a life time of good habits.
Designed to be safe for children age 2 and up. Sweetened with Xylitol, these chewable probiotics have a natural berry flavor and will not harm young teeth. One of the more affordable children’s chewables, BerryDophilus contains 4 probiotic strains of bacteria proven to grow healthy intestinal flora.
Designed for children aged 3 and up. These gummies taste good with natural flavors and colors derived from fruits and vegetables. The key ingredient is Ganeden BC 30, a probiotic with 500 million viable cell cultures to help ensure a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
Strawberry flavored chewable. Sweetened with Xylitol for healthy teeth, this probiotic is designed for children aged 2 through 11. Each daily serving contains 100 million live cultures, which is the same amount found in one serving of yogurt.
One of the few formulas designed gentle enough for infants all the way up to young children. Packaged in a powdered form, Bio-Kult can be added to baby formula or to a child’s favorite drink. In addition to 7 different strains of live bacteria, Bio-Kult includes Vitamin D3 and is high in Omega 3 for a healthy immune system.
Comes in a tablet form with a natural mixed berry flavor that kids like. Child Life Probiotics includes 3 strains of live bacteria for healthy flora growth. What makes this table unique is the addition of colostrum powder, which also adds to a child’s antibodies and boosts the immune system.
Perfect option for parents with a focus on organic living. This probiotic comes in a powder form and includes 23 raw, organic, and whole food fruits and vegetables. Certified organic and vegetarian, this probiotic is also gluten-free and contains no soy allergens. Together with RAW inulin, each serving adds over 5 billion live probiotic cells in each daily serving. As with most organic products, this probiotic is a slightly more expensive option.
Like probiotics, problem solving is also great for kids.
Probiotics are great for infants and children alike, boosting immunities, improving digestion, and helping with a myriad of other potential ailments. While not completely necessary, they do provide a number of health benefits and are pretty easy to give to your children.
Can a child take probiotics?
Yes, a child can take probiotics if they are healthy. However, if your child is sick, has cancer, or some other immune system issues then probiotics are not the best choice for your child. The bacteria in them, while generally good, have a chance to pass on infections or sickness.
How can probiotics help my child?
Probiotics can help children by solving digestive issues such as acid reflux, constipation, and diarrhea. They can also strengthen a healthy immune system and be used to combat eczema and allergies.
Are probiotics good for 2 year olds?
Probiotics are good for 2 year olds, you'll just want to avoid ones where the child can easily choke. Taking probiotics in the form of liquid or naturally (through yogurt and soured milk, for exmple) are great as there is no choking hazard for these methods of ingestion.
How long should I give probiotics to my children?
You should give probiotics to your children for anywhere from 3 weeks to 2 months of time. This will help your children fully restore their good bacteria, while replenishing and strengthening the base with healthy bacteria from the probiotics. However, it also depends on the health of your children and what you are giving them probiotics for.
For example, taking probiotics can help with diarrhea, in which case the shorter end of that range (about 3 weeks) will suffice. Even if you no longer see symptoms, keep taking the probiotics as they will restore import bacteria for the body and immune system, which you can't see or feel.
Growing up as a kid who played outside, Samantha enjoys an active lifestyle and emphasizes health as a key component to her life. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with others so that anybody can live a healthy life. On the weekends, you can find her hiking around Southern California!