Baby Probiotics. As a parent, you naturally want to give your baby the best start in life. You’re conscious of your baby’s health and development and want to ensure they grow up happy and healthy. To that end, I try to take a proactive and mindful approach to parenting and babycare. I like to stress the importance of breastfeeding, minimizing toxins in the home, choosing safer baby products, bonding with your baby, and using compassionate parenting techniques. I believe in using natural remedies whenever sensible, providing an organic and minimally processed diet, and playing outside.
Another important and often overlooked element of care is to look after your baby’s gut health. A healthy gut is the foundation for a healthy child and will influence your baby’s health for many years to come. For this reason, I am also a big believer in giving baby probiotics along with eating fermented foods and cutting out processed foods.
Building up your baby’s gut health through the use of probiotics allows your baby’s immune system to more effectively manage any toxins, irritants, and other threats. Good gut bacteria can also influence the health of other organs like the brain, liver, and kidneys, helping set up your baby for a lifetime of better health. Giving your baby probiotics might be one of the most important ways to ensure your baby’s health in the short and long term.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that live in our body and can deliver health benefits.
Our bodies actually host billions of microorganisms – including good and bad bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Collectively, they are called the microbiota, though you might also see them referred to as gut flora or the microbiome. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria and yeasts that balance out the pathogenic bacteria in our bodies.
Probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, and kefir. They’re also available in supplement form and topical creams. Some baby formulas even contain added probiotics.
The most commonly available probiotics are bacteria that belong to the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium groups. Each has several strains with their own unique health benefits. Other strains may also be taken as probiotics, and so can yeasts like Saccharomyces boulardii (a personal favorite of mine, and one that is great for candida and yeast overgrowth).
Why Are Probiotics Necessary?
Our gut health plays a vital role in numerous health functions. Most of the bacteria in our bodies settle in the large intestines and basically function as superheroes in the human body: they play an important role in the immune system, help with nutrient absorption, aid with food digestion, fight against disease-causing microorganisms, serve as a detoxification mechanism, and produce crucial vitamins. 
The immune system is actually regulated by beneficial microflora.
And if that wasn’t impressive enough, the gut has also been called our “second brain” because of the influence it has over the health of the brain, as well as the “second liver” because gut bacteria help neutralize many of the toxins found in food. 
Unfortunately, gut flora can easily be thrown off balance, even by something as simple as getting sick. An imbalance of intestinal bacteria – i.e. too many unhealthy bacteria – has been linked to diseases and symptoms as:
- bloating, gas, or constipation
- food allergies or sensitivities
- eczema, psoriasis, or acne
- depression, anxiety, or OCD
- autoimmune disorders
- vitamin deficiencies [3,4]
When our gut flora is out of balance, our immune system can go into overdrive and generate a response that creates chronic internal inflammation. When our gut flora is in balance, we may experience many health benefits such as improved digestion, lower risk of infection, better mental health, and a strengthened immune system.
Science is just beginning to learn about the importance of the gut, but it’s clear that its impact and influence in the human body are widespread and impressive.
Do Babies Need Probiotics?
Starting life without being exposed to healthy gut flora can be difficult to overcome. – Dr. David Williams
The short answer is yes. I personally believe that most babies can benefit from taking quality probiotics. I can say with confidence that I wish I had given both of my babies probiotics from day one instead of waiting for their reflux symptoms and eczema to appear. However, you should consult with your pediatrician before starting probiotics, especially if your baby was a preemie or is immuno-compromised in any other way.
Why am I such a firm believer in the benefits of probiotics for babies? One of the most important factors that determine your baby’s health at birth is their beneficial microflora (aka beneficial yeast and good bacteria). Remember, microflora fight against pathogenic bacteria and viruses and also play a critical role in helping your baby’s digestion, building their immune system, and absorbing vitamins and nutrients from food.
What many people don’t know is that a baby’s intestinal flora is dependent on his mother’s. A mother passes on her own microflora to her baby during gestation and in labor as the baby passes through the birth canal. In fact, a vaginally delivered baby’s microbiota resembles his mother’s microbiota makeup within 20 minutes of being born. 
However, babies aren’t getting exposed to enough healthy bacteria anymore. During the last century, the following trends have contributed to degrading gut flora:
- antibiotics usage
- high levels of stress
- sugar consumption
- consuming processed foods
- living an overly sanitary lifestyle
As a result, mothers are unknowingly passing on their compromised intestinal flora to their babies. Babies born by c-section are further at a disadvantage because they are not exposed to their mother’s fecal and vaginal flora through the birth canal.
Sadly, all of these factors have contributed to the degradation of gut flora that has been passed on from generation to generation. It’s no one’s fault, either; this is a byproduct of living in a Western nation and eating a Western diet.
It’s no wonder that there are more and more babies that have “colic”, acid reflux, food allergies, eczema, digestive discomfort, and other health issues.
The good news? Science is learning more and more about the microbiome and the importance of healthy bacteria. Armed with knowledge regarding the benefits and uses of probiotics, you can help ensure your baby has strong and diverse gut flora.
How Do Probiotics Help Babies?
Your baby’s gut health is critical to their overall health. Introducing baby probiotics will help your baby have a more balanced gut microbiome. 
This may help with the following:
- Boosting your baby’s immune system. An estimated 80% of our immune system lies in our gut; having a healthy balance of gut flora means your baby may be better equipped to handle illnesses and less likely to deal with chronic inflammation
- Improving digestion and easing colic or reflux. When your baby has an imbalance of microbiota, he may have symptoms like acid reflux, colic, diarrhea, and constipation or serious issues like Crohn’s or IBS. Having a good balance of gut flora through the intake of baby probiotics might help with many such problems. [6,7]
- Clearing up skin problems. Studies show that having imbalanced gut flora makes you more vulnerable to skin infections and inflammation. Many baby skin issues like eczema and baby acne are associated with an imbalanced gut flora; these issues may be mitigated through the use of probiotics and other gut-healing efforts. 
- Reducing the risk of obesity. Children with low levels of healthy bacteria in their intestines may be at a higher risk for obesity; by exposing your baby to more healthy bacteria you can help reduce this risk. 
Is it Safe to Give Baby Probiotics?
Studies show that you can safely give baby probiotics to most babies. One such study found that certain probiotic strains have proven to not only be safe but also very effective in treating medical conditions that involve the gastrointestinal tract in infants. Based on rigorous scientific research, the study concludes that certain probiotic strains are highly effective in preventing and treating conditions such as diarrhea and colic in children. 
To be on the safe side, it’s always best to check with your baby’s healthcare advisor before starting probiotics or any other supplements. Additionally, if your baby has suspected allergies, you should verify that the probiotics you purchase are not cultured on such allergens (such as dairy or soy).
TIP: I would also recommend starting your baby on a small dose of probiotics and working your way up from there to the recommended dose. You don’t even need to give them daily; it’s common to skip a day or two on the dosing. Probiotics can be potent and it’s best to ease your child into taking them so as to avoid any potential reactions caused by introducing new bacteria into your baby’s gut flora.
As for how to administer probiotics to a baby, you can either add the dose to your baby’s bottle, give it directly to them on a spoon or pacifier, mix it with solid foods, or place some on your breast before nursing.
The Best Baby Probiotics
To choose the best baby probiotics brands, I considered a number of important factors:
- probiotic strains included
- strain diversity
- fillers and other ingredients
- allergens and their derivatives
- efficacy and reviews
Based on this and my personal experience, here are my top choices for the best baby probiotics. Please note that I have personally used all but one of these products. (ProBiota is the only one I have not yet given to my kids).
GutPro Infant is another amazing probiotic formulation. It was custom designed for the developing gut of young children and formulated based on research and feedback from parents and health practitioners and includes 50% Bifidobacterium infantis, a key strain for babies. It is one of the most popular probiotics in the allergy community because it is pure and effective.
It contains seven strains of probiotics, each one of which has been cultured under carefully controlled conditions. Since it’s a concentrated mix of pure probiotics, its best to start your baby off on a tiny portion (many parents give their babies only a few grains of this powder on a toothpick and work their way up to the full dose).
We have had a lot of success taking this probiotic. I can say with certainty that it helps my baby, who has had eczema and digestive issues, sleep better. And it has helped tremendously with his skin.
At $99.95 per bottle, GutPro Infant can seem pricey. But given that each bottle has 363 servings, and assuming that this lasts you approximately one year, it breaks down to just a little over $8 per month. Comparably, this is less expensive than many other brands. Since you may not even start with an entire dose, the bottle seems to last FOREVER, so you get a lot of value for your money.
TIP: Buy their measuring spoons (or you can use these from Amazon). This probiotic is potent and a full dose is 1/64th teaspoon, so it helps to use the measuring spoons rather than guess. I would also recommend paying a few dollars extra for it to be shipped with an ice pack. Corganic offers free shipping on orders $125 and higher. (Just in case you’re looking to meet the free shipping threshold and are looking for some fish oil for yourself, their Rosita cod liver oil is high quality.)
- Contains 50% Bifidobacterium infantis (one of the most important probiotic bacteria for babies)
- Does not contain milk/casein, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat/gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, yeast, corn or soy; cultured on a dairy-free, soy-free, non-GMO vegetarian culture
- It contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
- Free from added ingredients such as magnesium stearate, silica, titanium dioxide
- Does not contain any strains that produce d-lactate, making it gentler for babies
- Contains only histamine-neutral or histamine-degrading strains of probiotic bacteria, which is helpful for babies dealing with potential allergies, eczema, and/or histamine intolerance
GutPro Infant Probiotic Ingredients:
6 billion CFUs+ of a probiotic blend containing Bifidobacterium infants, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium breve, Lactobacillus salivarius, Bifidobacterium lactic. Other Ingredients: None. Requires refrigeration.
Klaire Labs Infant Probiotic is another one of my top choices!
It is a 10-strain probiotic blend powder that is free of the top common allergens, and long-proven to be an effective probiotic. With everything from eczema and reflux to gas and belly pains, Klaire Labs Infant has legions of fans who will tell you that it has improved their baby’s symptoms. You’ll find lots of happy customers and a lot of word-of-mouth recommendations for this product.
We have had good success with it as well, and I have given this to both of my boys. I can also confirm that it doesn’t taste bad; in fact, it kind of has a sweet kick to it and tastes pretty good for a probiotic. Maybe a little like dry cereal. I don’t mind taking it at all, and my baby actually squeals when I bring this out of the fridge and takes it directly off a spoon.
While you can purchase this from Amazon, it is often sold by unauthorized sellers who ship it without an ice pack. This isn’t ideal because this probiotic requires refrigeration, although you can still use this product even if you ordered it from Amazon and it was shipped without an ice pack. Instead I usually order from this shop because they offer fast shipping with a free ice pack. (Note: by the time the package arrives at your door, the ice pack will have melted; this is normal and you can still use the probiotics.)
- 5 billion CFU blend containing equal parts Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species
- Contains no added common allergens, including wheat, gluten, corn, shellfish, fish, eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, soybeans, and yeast
- Free from artificial flavors, preservatives or colors
- Easily digestible by babies because it primarily produces L-lactic acid (not the D-isomer type of lactic acid that is common in many strains of lactobacilli)
- Specifically designed for children ages 2 and under
Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic For Infants Powder Ingredients:
Probiotic Blend (5+ billion CFU) in a base of inulin (derived from chicory root): Lactobacillus species 2.5+ billion CFU (Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus gasseri, and Lactobacillus salivarius. Bifidobacterium species 2.5+ billion CFU (Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium lactis). Other Ingredients: None. Requires refrigeration.
ProBiota Infant is another popular multi-strain probiotic powder. Each strain is chosen based on research that shows its safety and critical importance to a developing gastrointestinal system of an infant. It’s also a great tasting probiotic so it can be given directly from your finger to your baby’s mouth. Many parents report that they saw an immediate improvement in their baby’s digestive issues as a result of these probiotics.
Like Klaire Labs’s Infant Probiotic, ProBiota is one of the best baby probiotics on the market; both products actually contain the same probiotic strains, although the formulations may be different and ProBiota contains twice as many total CFUs. Seeking Health is also a trusted brand (founded by Dr. Ben Lynch), which makes me feel comfortable recommending this probiotic even though I haven’t tried it myself.
- Each serving contains 10 billion+ CFUs of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium
- Free from common allergens such as dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, gluten
- Can given directly to baby because it has a sweet taste
- Contains inulin (a prebiotic), which can also help support beneficial bacteria
- Rave reviews by parents who report that the probiotic helped instantaneously in helping with their baby’s gas problems, constipation and skin issues such as eczema
- Shelf stable, which means it can be shipped without a cold pack and does not need to be stored in the refrigerator
Seeking Health ProBiota Infant Probiotic Ingredients:
Probiotic Blend (10+ billion CFU) in a base of inulin (derived from chicory root): Lactobacillus species 5+ billion CFU (Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus gasseri, and Lactobacillus salivarius. Bifidobacterium species 5+ billion CFU (Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium lactis). Other Ingredients: None. Does not require refrigeration.
If you prefer to give baby probiotics liquid drops, Probonix is the choice for you.
Probonix liquid baby probiotics contains 8 of the most effective probiotic strains that support and promote a healthy gut for infants. It is coated in a proprietary acid which allows the probiotic to safely pass through the acidic environment of the stomach and get to your baby’s gut ten times more effectively than many other probiotics.
We used Probonix when my youngest was a newborn. I ended up switching to GutPro (and later Klaire Labs) because I was worried that he may have been reacting to some of the ingredients because his eczema was flaring at the time, but I’ve never been able to validate my concern. (It could have been a number of other things I was using/eating at the time.) Otherwise I found this to be a good probiotic and especially useful during the newborn stage when it was much easier to use drops than a powder probiotic.
- Designed to help with problems such as gas, diarrhea, eczema, constipation and lactose intolerance
- Does not require refrigeration
- Made in the USA in a cGMP facility
Probonix Liquid Probiotic Drops Ingredients:
Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus reuteri. Other ingredients: filtered water, natural grape flavor, monk fruit extract, and stevia. Does not require refrigeration.
I am not thrilled with the natural grape flavor or stevia, but use this brand if powder probiotics are not an option for you.
Natural Ways to Support Your Baby’s Gut Health
In addition to giving baby probiotics, what are the ways in which you can help your baby have a healthy gut flora? Here are a few simple everyday tips on how you can support the microbial diversity in your baby’s gut.
- Breastfeed if you can: Breastfeeding is the best way to keep your baby’s gut healthy. It’s your baby’s first dose of probiotic and will help in sealing the gut lining.
- Avoid giving your baby antibiotics: though they can be very effective (and sometimes life-saving), antibiotics kill both the good and bad bacteria in your body and causes much harm to your gut over the long term. Talk to your doctor about whether it makes sense to use natural alternatives for antibiotics, and let antibiotics be your last resort whenever possible.
- Limit your baby’s intake of sugar/processed food: consumption of excess sugar will cause fermentation in your baby’s gut; this in turn will promote more of the bad bacteria in their gut from forming.
- Take your baby outdoors: By exposing your baby to the outside world, you allow your baby to develop a strong immune system. Letting your little ones play outdoors with other kids and getting their hands dirty expose them to different microbes which will help strengthen their gut.
And on the off-chance you’re reading this before you get pregnant, or during pregnancy, I would recommend that you try to heal your own gut before conception. Your microbiota will play a critical role in your baby’s gut flora. Try to eat fermented foods and take a high quality probiotic. Eat a variety of healthy foods, cut out most processed foods, and limit the intake of alcohol and antibiotics.
Links to Buy The Best Baby Probiotics
Isn’t it amazing how important our gut health is, even during pregnancy?
I hope you found the perfect baby probiotics for your little one. By being mindful of your baby’s gut health, you’re giving your baby an important gift for their future.
Keep up the great work you’re doing!
Sources:  “Defining the Human Microbiome”  Perlmutter, David. “Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain for Life”  USA Today  “Microbial Origins of Chronic Diseases”  Medial News Today  “The gut microbiota and inflammatory noncommunicable diseases”  BabyCenter  “Acne Vulgaris, Probiotics, and the Gut-Brain-Skin Axis”  “Childhood Obesity: A Role for Gut Microbiota?”  “The Use of Probiotics in Pediatric Gastroenterology”