Before choosing infant probiotics, it is best to talk to your child’s doctor. Once you have the green light, you should first make sure to purchase a product that is specially made for infants because adult formulations may cause adverse reactions. For the most benefits, it’s a good idea to choose items which have prebiotics added to allow the bacteria to live as they pass through the digestive tract. Additionally, the higher the flora content, the more likely it is that enough bacteria will live to benefit your child.
Most infant probiotics come in powdered form so that you can easily mix them with formula or baby food. Infants who are breastfed do not normally need supplementary probiotics until they are weaned because a mother’s milk helps maintain proper digestive flora naturally. Formula-fed infants can benefit from them, however, because cow’s milk derived formulas can cause digestive upset and may introduce foreign bacteria into the stomach which compete with your baby’s naturally occurring flora.
For most babies, infant probiotics can be taken daily either or once or twice per day. The exact dosage should be determined by you and your doctor depending on your child’s individual needs. For instance, children who experience frequent constipation or stomach upset may benefit from a higher dosage than those who do not. If symptoms do not improve, be sure to speak with your doctor about other potential treatment options.
You should also consider the flora content of the infant probiotics you choose, since the higher the number, the more live bacteria that will make it to your child’s digestive tract. The stomach is not hospitable to some bacteria, and acids along with digestive enzymes may kill a large portion of the flora you child receives before it makes it far enough into the intestines to do any good. There are also varieties which come with prebiotics, or specially made carbohydrates or sugars which help aid the flora and protect it while traveling through the stomach.
Remember to read labels carefully because some formulas already contain infant probiotics. Some babies can experience adverse reactions if too much is given at one time. This generally includes diarrhea, which is potentially serious for a young infant. If diarrhea does occur, feed the child on time at every feeding to keep him or her hydrated and discontinue use of the probiotics until speaking with your doctor about dosage requirements.