One of the most asked questions I get in my inbox is how to give a baby probiotics. More and more parents are getting educated and waking up to the fact that gut health is the foundation of all health and that if the bad bacteria takes over in your digestive system, you are pretty much screwed.
But rest easy, it can be fixed with the right tools and some hard work!
In a magic perfect world, pregnant mama would be eating a perfect, nutrient dense diet full of raw, cultured dairy, and fermented drinks and vegetables-both full of probiotics, eating little to no grains and sugar and would have perfect digestion. She would have medium brown poop, that floats, and she would go three times a day after every meal. That she, then in turn, would pass that perfect digestion on to her baby, via the bacteria in amniotic fluid and in her vagina when she gives birth.
But the sad reality is that most women have been on the SAD (Standard American Diet) diet for years. They eat lots of grains and sugars that feed the bad bacteria, which also means that not only do not get enough nutrients going in their bodies in the first place, their digestion is so poor they can’t absorb it anyway. And on top of poor diet, they have probably been on birth control for many years and done many rounds of antibiotics, further wiping out the good bacteria in their gut.
And then that gets all passed to the baby. The quality of digestion and amount of good bacteria in mom is exactly what is given to baby, for better or worse.
Babies are not supposed to have allergies, eczema, colic, or gas. They are not supposed to be constipated for days or have ridiculous blow out poops. They are not supposed to be insanely fussy after a feeding and spit up like crazy. They are not supposed to get lots of colds, fevers, or have weak immune systems overall. They are not supposed to be skinny either.
Another sad fact to add and complicate matters – babies who are not born vaginally don’t get access to the good bacteria in mom’s vagina (if she has them in the first place) and instead that baby has to try to inoculate their system based on a sterile operating room. Then if those babies are fed formula or poor quality breastmilk, as their first food, the bad bacteria has such a leg up at that point, that a life time battle has been set up for that baby to keep the bad bacteria in their system in check.
Ugh, I know this is kind of depressing and hard to read especially if you are like me and were not able to give your baby perfect digestion, but keep reading please.
So what to do if you had a poor diet in pregnancy, or maybe you had a great diet in pregnancy, but you yourself were gifted with a weak and compromised digestion system from your own mother and you passed that on to your baby?
Give them probiotics.
If your baby is colicky or has any other healthy issues, and you are nursing, it would be great to improve your diet too. If you can, get off grains or at least gluten, get off white sugar, get off processed dairy (and even raw for awhile)-all things that feed the bad bugs. You will see a huge improvement in your digestion, and thus the quality of your milk and ease for your baby to digest your milk. If you and your baby still need more healing, you might want to consider doing a heavy duty-yeast cleanse/gut healing a la the GAPS Diet.
To get probiotics in your diet, start taking probiotics supplements, and start eating and drinking raw fermented foods. I drink about 6 ounces of kombucha each day, and have fermented sauerkraut with each meal and take a daily probiotic supplement.
You want to change your diet, because what you eat, and the state of your digestion, is what you are giving your baby both in pregnancy and during lactation! Your body doesn’t magically pull nutrients out of thin air and it doesn’t magically pull good bacteria out of thin air either.
And then to further support your babies digestion, give them probiotic as well. Some people have asked why they should give probiotics to baby if they are breastfeeding and taking probiotics themselves and my very unfancy answer is that they need all the help they can get. The age of the robust babies ended at about the 1950′s and since then each generation is just getting weaker and digestion more and more compromised.
This is what you can do to give your baby probiotics starting at about day 3:
- Put some fermented sauerkraut liquid on your finger and let them suck.
- Put some powdered probiotics on your finger and let them suck. Or put it on your nipple. Or just sprinkle it on their tongue.
- If you are bottle nursing, just put some in a bottle and mix it up.
For the first 8 weeks, just a tiny pinch will do. Then at about 3 months old, you can do 1/4 teaspoon once per day. Gradually increase as they get older, Penelope at 3.5 years old, gets 3/4 teaspoon of powdered probiotics each day, on top of about 4 ounces of kombucha. I give her probiotics in the morning when she first wakes up on an empty stomach.
When I was pregnant with Penelope I ate pretty well (organic foods, grass-fed meats, raw dairy), but my diet was still high in grains and sugar. And I had a compromised digestive system to start off with thanks to the digestion I inherited from my mother and from myself being born by cesarean.
On top of that, I had a bad sinus infection in the last few weeks or so before I gave birth. I was convinced she wasn’t coming out, because I was sick, so I succumbed and took a round of antibiotics. I was on antibiotics for the several days before I gave birth and for about 5 days after I gave birth. I will forever feel guilty for wiping out my own good bacteria right before I gave birth and hurting my daughter in the process. I know her eczema, food allergies and now SPD are all related to the digestion system that I gave her. I can’t undo the past but I can help my daughter heal as much as possible and giving her probiotics is as simple as it gets. And I can forgive myself and just keep moving in the right direction, one foot in front of the other, knowing that everything happens for a reason and is meant to be.
And speaking of Miss P, here she is swiping her probiotics off the counter and saying she wanted to be in the picture, such a ham!