How Probiotics for Kids Could Help Your Child's Health
- Probiotics can help to support your child’s digestive and immune health, amongst many other health benefits.
- Your child can get probiotics from certain foods, like yogurt or kefir.
- If they’re not eating enough of those foods or could use some extra support for their health, they may need a probiotic supplement.
Diarrhea. Constipation. Colic. These can be the stuff of (waking) nightmares for any parent. Luckily there’s help at hand for at least one piece of the healthy child puzzle, although it may be somewhat surprising: probiotics for kids.
If you’ve ever taken probiotics, you likely know they can help ease digestive issues. The question is, are probiotics for kids a good idea?
Let’s explore what probiotics are, what benefits they offer your growing child, and how to get more of them into your little one’s diet in a healthy and delicious way.
What Are Probiotics?
We all have a microbiome, which develops from childhood. The microbiome is made of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and other microorganisms in our gut, saliva, and urinary and reproductive systems, and on our skin. It may sound disgusting, but our body actually needs “germs” to function properly.
Some of those germs are “good” bacteria and help us fight disease and digest and absorb nutrients from our food. Other bacteria aren’t so good and when they get out of control, we can end up with an infection or find that our digestive system isn’t working so well.
Probiotics are good bacteria that support digestive health. They help our systems fight off infection and keep everything in our body working well. Your child can get them from food — including breast milk — or from a dietary supplement.
Why Your Growing Child May Need a Probiotic Supplement
Gut health is far more important to our overall health than we used to think.
Research shows that what’s going on in our guts affects not only our digestive system but also our immune system, our brain and heart health, and even our mood. It’s clear that a healthy microbiome has many benefits and gives your child the greatest chance of developing a strong and healthy body and mind. After all, that’s the ultimate goal!
On the other hand, if your child’s gut bacteria is out of balance, it affects many areas of the body, not just the digestive system. Any of these digestive issues or other symptoms may point to a problem like:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Respiratory tract infections
Health Benefits of Probiotics for Kids
The digestive tract can be thrown off by many different things, including diet, lifestyle, illness, the environment, or even stress. Some medications, especially antibiotics, can also have a negative effect. Antibiotics kill not just bad bacteria — which is usually why they’re prescribed — but good bacteria too.
More research is needed as every child’s (and adult’s) microbiome is different, but in general, probiotics for kids can help support:
- Effective digestion and absorption of food
- Healthy bowel movement
- Immune health
Does My Child Need a Daily Probiotic?
If your child is well and happily eating a healthy and varied diet of mostly unprocessed foods (in which case, consider yourself lucky!), they may not need a daily probiotic supplement.
For instance, probiotics are found naturally in many different foods, starting with breast milk. So if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, make sure your own microbiome is in good shape so you can pass those healthy bacteria on to your child.
Once your little one starts on solid foods, these are great sources of probiotics:
- Cottage cheese
Basically, if “live cultures” are mentioned on the label, you’re on the right track.
If you’re dealing with a picky eater, try mixing foods high in probiotics into other foods that your child likes, like a smoothie, juice, or porridge. Otherwise, try ready-made products like probiotics-filled drinkable yogurt, which comes in kid-friendly variations like vanilla, mango, or berry flavor. Be sure to read the label before you buy though. Watch out for ready-made products that contain very low levels of probiotics and a lot of added sugar or other sweeteners.
Note that fresh fruit and vegetables are also very important, as they contain prebiotics. These provide food for the good bacteria in your system.
If your little one’s system is out of whack, you’re struggling to get enough healthy food into them, or they’ve recently been on a course of antibiotics, a probiotic supplement can help bring their little body back into balance.
Types of Children's Probiotics
Children’s probiotics are formulated slightly differently from adult probiotics. For example, they may contain different strains that are more suitable for children. They’re also usually milder and taken at a lower dosage. And perhaps equally importantly, they’re designed to appeal to your little one’s tastes.
Probiotics for kids come in many different forms. If your child is old enough to manage them, chewable tablets and gummies work very well — especially if you “pitch” them to your kid as sweets. They can be delicious and are available in many variations.
On that note though, make sure they’re kept out of reach so your child doesn’t help themselves to more “candy” while your back is turned. We know you have eyes in the back of your head, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
For children who can’t — or won’t — eat tablets or gummies, probiotics also come in liquid or powder form, and even in convenient probiotic packets. These are easily disguised by mixing them into other food or drink.
In our humble opinion, the best type of probiotics for kids are ones that parents and kids love!
What’s the Best Probiotic Supplement for My Child?
If you look on Amazon, you’ll see many different probiotics for kids are available. Each supplement contains live cultures that support your child’s system. However, different products contain different probiotic strains, for example, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, or Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG). Each of these strains has a different function in your child’s body.
Also, probiotics can occasionally cause side effects like bloating or interact with other medications, so they may not be right for all children. Consult your pediatrician or other healthcare professional to find out if your child could benefit from them. They should be able to recommend the right strains for your child’s specific condition.
Probiotics for kids are also available blended with other essential vitamins and minerals, like Vitamin C or Vitamin D, or even sometimes with a multivitamin.
What to Look Out for When Buying Probiotics for Kids
As the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements differently than food and drugs, make sure you do your research to check that the brand you’re buying from is trustworthy, and read the product label carefully.
As you read the label, look for:
- Probiotic count: This is measured in colony-forming units (CFUs). The dosage your child needs will depend on their age and size. Check with your pediatrician on this.
- Probiotic strains: As we’ve mentioned, there are many of these. Your pediatrician should be able to suggest what your child needs.
- Storage requirements: Some types of probiotics need to be stored in the fridge, while others are shelf-stable. Make sure you store it according to the instructions to preserve its efficacy.
- Other additives: Check that it’s gluten-free, preservative-free, sugar-free, soy-free, and lactose-free. Also make sure it contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors.
- Research: See if the manufacturer’s claims are backed by research.
Llama Naturals Prebiotic and Probiotic for kids just happens to tick all these boxes — not that we’re biased or anything! It’s 100% vegan, packed with research-backed prebiotics and probiotics and contains no added sugar or synthetics.
Probiotics Could Change Your Child’s Life
Probiotics for kids may provide many health benefits, including digestive health, immune support, and a healthy brain and heart.
To make sure your child is getting all the good stuff and none of the bad, choose the best quality supplements you can get your hands on, like Llama Naturals. They’re chock full of all the goodness of real fruit plus Unconditional Llama Llove, with nothing silly added. Get Llama Naturals Prebiotic and Probiotic for kids today — it’s a high-quality, child-friendly probiotic that’s healthy AND tastes good.
Llama Naturals is a plant-based nutrition brand that has created the World's First Whole Fruit Gummy Vitamins that are made with no added sugar and whole-food vitamins. They are USDA Organic, Vegan, Gluten Free, free of common allergens, and are slow-cooked on low heat to retain rich phytonutrients & fruit flavor. It’s a win-win gummy vitamin that you and the family will love.