Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that reside in the intestines and can maintain digestive health and may even have benefits for breastfed babies. They aid digestion and counteract bad bacteria that cause illnesses. Probiotics are known to be an effective treatment for babies with acute diarrhea. They may also help gas and discomforts in babies with colic. (1)
A baby’s immune system is almost entirely dependent on the mother’s breast milk for protection from the outside environment during the first few weeks of its life. Breast feeding is now recognized as an important strategy for a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in an infant’s digestive tract. (2)
The best source of probiotics for babies is breast milk, while fortified formula and food sources such as yogurt are also sources. Breast milk contains prebiotics that promote the growth of probiotic bacteria in the digestive tract, which causes a breastfed baby’s bacteria composition to differ from a formula-fed baby’s. Probiotics pass into the breast milk, therefore, a mother can increase the level by consuming probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, fortified soy milk or juice, miso and fermented milk products. Mothers can also increase the level of beneficial bacteria in their breast milk by taking probiotic supplements. (1)
In cases where breastfeeding is not producing an adequate supply of breast milk, babies can receive probiotics from formulas which contain them. Infant-strength probiotics are available as well, and once a baby is on solid foods, encourage probiotic-rich foods. (1)
(1) Live Strong. Probiotics while Breastfeeding. Retrieved September 25, 2013 from http://www.livestrong.com/article/415352-probiotics-while-breastfeeding/#ixzz2fvUDubg7.
(2) Dr. Alex Rineheart. Create Life Long Wellness. The Important Role of Breastfeeding on Infant Gut Development. Retrieved September 25, 2013 from http://dralexrinehart.com/nutrition-benefits/importance-of-breastfeeding-infant-gut-development/.