Did you know that your gut microbiota are essential to your health from the day you are born? While we often hear about the importance of a healthy gut for adults, newborns are especially vulnerable to an imbalance in their bacteria. But if you are going to give a newborn probiotics, you want to ensure you are making the smartest and safest choice.
What are the best probiotics for newborns? How do I know which strains to choose, or how to give my baby the probiotics? We’ll cover everything you need to know about the best probiotics for newborns.
When you think about the respiratory system, you probably think of lungs. When you think about the circulatory system, you probably think of the heart. But what do you think of when someone asks about the immune system? Most people do not have a sense of where in the body the immune system’s “control center” is. The fact is that the vast majority of the immune system is located in the digestive tract - specifically, the intestines.
Of course we know that the intestines are for digesting food and absorbing nutrients, but they also play a large and essential role in your immunity. This is why probiotics are not only able to benefit digestion, but also the immune system: because they deliver healthy bacteria to the intestines.
The first part of picking the best probiotics for newborns is to understand why an infant could benefit from probiotics in the first place.
When a baby is in the womb, he benefits from his mother’s immune system. During approximately the last 3 months of pregnancy, the mom’s antibodies pass to the baby via the placenta. In this way, the mother can maintain the immunity of the soon-to-be newborn.
However, as soon as the baby is born, that ability for the mother to easily pass antibodies - or any protective elements - through the umbilical cord, is gone.
There’s one last chance before a baby officially becomes “a newborn” to get a great dose of healthy bacteria. It’s in the birth canal. Babies born vaginally may get a boost in the probiotics department, while those born by C-section miss out.
Thus, even babies that are vaginally born and breastfed may not be getting the right baby bacteria and can benefit even more from a healthy probiotic. B. infantis is good for the baby's overall immune and mental health.
Research shows that up to 80% of immune cells reside in the intestinal tract, as well as our second brain known as the enteric nervous system. The tolerance established between the microbiota and the immune system can affect the rest of the baby's well-being throughout their life.
Now that the newborn is on their own in the world, and not getting healthy bacteria through the umbilical cord, the primary way they can get good bacteria from his/her mom is via breastmilk.
Moms who breastfeed pass on more than nutrients in that milk. They pass on their own immunity, bacteria, and other healthy essentials for the baby. Human breast milk has specific components that will stimulate the growth of B. infantis in the newborn's intestinal tract. There is an incredible evolutionary alliance here that must be recognized and appreciated.
We talked about how babies can get good bacteria from their mothers while they are in the womb. This also holds true for newborns who are breastfed.
From day 1, breastmilk not only delivers healthy nutrients and bacteria that your baby needs, but it also adapts. Breastmilk changes as your baby grows, but there is also evidence that it can change in response to your baby’s changing needs. Babies who are formula fed do not get these same benefits at an early age, which is why the right probiotics are so important.
If you are breastfeeding, can your newborn still benefit from probiotics? The answer is yes. Just like in adults, who are generally not able to get all the healthy bacteria they need from food, newborns are the same way. While formula-fed infants may be even more in need of the benefits of probiotics, breastfed newborns can benefit as well.
Now that we’ve talked about why a baby benefits from probiotics, let’s answer the most frequently asked questions about when to give them, how to give them, and the best probiotics for newborns.
There are so many probiotics available, but the vast majority of them are not formulated, manufactured, or guaranteed the way you would want for your newborn. A newborn’s health is fragile, and the last thing you want to do is pick an ineffective or dangerous probiotic, even if it saves a few dollars.
Natren’s scientists have created a probiotic supplement called Life Start which allows you to give your baby an incredibly high-quality, safe product that is formulated just for them. This supplement comes with our potency guarantee – that every strain in the probiotic is microbiologically pure and is manufactured to the highest standards of safety.
Colic is an uncomfortable and frustrating condition for babies, and the parents taking care of them. While you naturally want to do everything you can to ease your baby’s colic, be wary of probiotic supplements that offer probiotic bacteria to resolve colic. They may have been clinically tested but if they are not the bacteria that should be found in the healthy baby's intestines, no one knows the long-term effect on the baby's health.
Probiotics can be given to a newborn from their first feeding on the day they are born. This is the day that they lose the flow of healthy elements from the mom, through the placenta and umbilical cord. If a baby is born healthy, there’s generally no reason to wait to give them their first dose of digestion-boosting probiotics. You can continue the same Life Start probiotic through infancy and childhood.
Just because a newborn can’t swallow a pill, doesn’t mean that giving them probiotics needs to be difficult. Natren’s Life Start is a powder that you can give to a baby in several different ways. If you are breastfeeding, you can mix the powder with a little of your milk, and apply that paste directly to the nipple. When the newborn suckles, he/she will ingest the probiotics.
The same method can work with a bottle. A paste of milk and Life Start powder can be placed on the nipple of the bottle. Alternatively, your newborn’s probiotic can be mixed directly into the bottle. Once your child is older, you can mix Life Start into their yogurt or applesauce.
When you’re expecting a baby, it can be overwhelming to try and figure out every choice you make to ensure your newborn gets the best and healthiest start to their life. At Natren, we can make one thing easier for you - the answer to “what are the best probiotics for newborns?”
Natren has featured Life Start probiotic products that contain exclusively B. infantis probiotic bacteria. Natren was first to introduce this baby bacteria 30 years ago and we have continued our education throughout the decades. You can trust that Natren has the right baby bacteria that is good for pregnant women, mothers, newborns and sensitive individuals of all ages. When you’re ready to learn more about boosting your baby’s digestion, and all the positive effects healthy bacteria can give to newborns, visit us at natren.com.