There are a few very good reasons to consider giving your baby a probiotic. The best strain(s) to use depends on your specific goal:
- Counteracting factors that can make it difficult for a baby to build a healthy microbiome, such as antibiotics at time of delivery, C-section birth, or exclusive formula feeding.
- Helping to build a healthy microbiome to prevent food allergy, eczema, and asthma in babies with a family history of these problems.
- Treating colic, reflux, or digestive problems.
Reasons # 1 & 2: The Best Infant Probiotics for Microbiome Support
B. Infantis and L. Rhamnosus GG (LGG) have both been shown in studies to help babies build up a much healthier balance of species. A combination of LGG and bifidobacteria may even be able to counteract much of the effect of antibiotics at time of delivery, as discussed in more detail in the book.
Between B. Infantis or LGG, it is difficult to decide which is better, because they are both supported by very encouraging clinical trials. For babies facing an uphill battle because of antibiotics or exclusive formula feeding, the best approach may be to give both.
One way to do this is with the Tiny Tummies probiotic by LoveBug. The formulation for 0 to 6 month old babies is the exact two species we want: B. infantis and LGG. Parents also report seeing vast improvements in their babies after adding this probiotic.
The drawback to this probiotic is that it is difficult to find in local stores. In summer in warm climates, it can be better to buy probiotics in person, rather than ordering online and taking the chance of the package getting too hot.
Other brands with LGG include:
Other brands with B. Infantis include:
- Evivo (expensive, but has the specific strain of B.infantis that has been researched and developed by the University of California – ships in cold pack.)
- Jarrow Dophiluls Infant drops (available at Wholefoods)
Reason #3: Probiotics for Colic and Reflux
The combination of LGG and B. Infantis should be very effective in preventing colic and digestive problems, and parents report that they can be very effective in treating these problems too, but there is also another option to consider if your baby is suffering from colic: L.Reuteri DSM 17938.
I wish I had tried this strain when my first baby was struggling with severe reflux and eczema. At the time I had not come across the fascinating studies showing that in babies with colic and reflux, L.Reuteri DSM 17938 can reduce crying time and reduce potentially harmful bacteria that cause abdominal pain. (See e.g. this study).
Now that word is getting out on this very helpful probiotic, the experience of many parents seems to line up with the scientific research – giving colicky babies L.Reuteri really does improve symptoms. It may take a few weeks, but the improvement can be quite dramatic for many babies.
Where to buy L.Reuteri DSM 17938 ?
This specific strain is available as BioGaia Protectis Baby Drops and Gerber Soothe Probiotic Colic Drops. During hot summer months, it is better to buy in a local store, such as CVS or Target, rather than ordering online.
Probiotics With and Without Vitamin D
Many infant probiotics come in versions that already contain the recommended daily dose of vitamin D (including Culturelle, BioGaia, and Gerber Soothe). If you are not giving your baby one of these versions, make sure to give a daily vitamin D supplement, as the AAP recommends. I like Baby Ddrops