The probiotic trend has the health world a-buzz. But there is still confusion as to what probiotics are – and what benefits they have for babies. Keep reading to learn more about probiotics and how they can help babies with gas.
What are probiotics?
Put simply, probiotics are good bacteria (live, non-harmful microorganisms) that are naturally found in some foods (like yogurt, kefir and tempeh) and in breast milk, as well as in some baby formulas and natural health products.
Do probiotics help babies with gas and digestion?
Certain strains of probiotics have been shown to support digestive health, relieve colic symptoms, improve lactose metabolism in babies with lactose intolerance, and to help to manage diarrhea, which may also reduce negative side effects like gas and bloating, when taken in adequate amounts.
The benefits of probiotics for babies with gas
Some probiotics have been shown to provide certain health benefits for babies with gas, including promoting a healthy digestive tract, when taken in adequate amounts.
B.lactis (Bifidobacterium lactis)
One of the better-known probiotics known as B. lactis, or Bifidobacterium lactis, is a common type of Bifidobacteria. Bifidobacteria are one type of good bacteria that accounts for up to 90% of the total naturally occurring bacteria found in the gut of most healthy, breastfed babies. B. lactis is a probiotic that is similar to those found in breast milk. The gut microbiota is a delicately balanced community of over 500 different kinds of bacteria. They live in our digestive tract and contribute to the health of our immune system. By supporting a healthy microbiota, B. lactis may help support the digestive health of babies.
L. reuteri (Lactobacillus reuteri)
L. reuteri is a probiotic that has been shown to reduce crying in babies with colic. Researchers believe that L. reuteri reduces gas in babies and, in turn, reduces tummy pain and colic.
Why else are probiotics important for babies?
Among the health benefits that probiotics provide for babies with gas is their support of the developing immune system and a healthy digestive tract. Our digestive tracts and immune systems work together very closely, meaning baby’s nutrition – including probiotics like those found in breast milk – play a crucial role in baby’s overall health. For more tips on boosting your baby's immune system, see How to Strengthen Your Baby's Immune System.
Building baby’s natural defenses
Many first-time parents may be surprised to learn that babies are not born with a fully developed immune system. When baby makes contact with microorganisms (bacteria) during and after birth, their natural defenses begin to form.
B. lactis has been shown to support the development of baby’s immune system by increasing antibodies. As well, good bacteria like Bifidobacteria can compete with unwelcome harmful bacteria in the gut and help keep them from causing illness in the baby. Your baby can obtain other benefits from probiotics in their digestive tract that also help support their overall immunity.
Healthy gut, healthy baby
Healthy gut flora is part of an overall healthy gut. Gas in babies can be caused by an imbalance in their gut microbiota which can result in gas production and, sometimes, abdominal discomfort. Probiotics like B. lactis can contribute to developing healthy, balanced gut flora, which can help to balance potentially harmful bacteria or gas producing bacteria in the gut.
Bifidobacteria can also help maintain a healthy gut lining in baby. Increasing the levels of Bifidobacteria in a baby’s digestive tract has been shown to help them develop a healthy, natural protective barrier.
How to incorporate probiotics in your baby’s diet
Breast milk naturally contains antibodies and probiotics and experts agree that exclusive breastfeeding is the best way to ensure your baby is receiving the optimal nutrition and immune benefits they need.
Formula with probiotics
For those mothers who are unable or choose not to breastfeed, you can still help your baby reap the benefits of probiotics. Choose a formula like Nestlé® Good Start® Plus Baby Formula that contains B. lactis, which helps support the development of a healthy gut microbiota
If your baby has excess gas, remember to always talk to your doctor about breastfeeding and safe and effective sources of probiotics for them.
This article has been sponsored by Nestlé Baby & me, but all comments and opinions are my own.
All trademarks are owned by Société des Produits Nestlé S.A., Vevey, Switzerland and used under licence. ©2023
Dr. Jeff Habert, MD, CCFP, FCFP
Dr. Jeff Habert is a Toronto-based family physician with over 34 years of experience. He completed his medical education at the University of Toronto. Dr. Habert is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto and a Peer Assessor for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
Kechagia M, Basoulis D, Konstantopoulou S, et al. Health Benefits of Probiotics: A Review. ISRN Nutrition. 2013;2013:481651. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4045285/. Accessed on April 19, 2018.
Schneider R, Sant’Anna A; Canadian Paediatric Society. Using probiotics in paediatric populations. Paediatr Child Health. 2022;27(8):482-491.
Saavedra JM. Use of Probiotics in Pediatrics: Rationale, Mechanisms of Action, and Practical Aspects. Nutr Clin Pract. 2007;22(3):351–65.
Gueimonde M, et al. Breast milk : a source of bifidobacteria for infant gut development and maturation? Neonatology 2007;92(1):64–66.
Holscher H, et al. Bifidobacterium lactis Bb12 Enhances Intestinal Antibody Response in Formula-Fed Infants: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Trial. JPEN. 2012;36(S1):106S-117S.
Szajewska H, Dryl R. Probiotics for the Management of Infantile Colic. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2016;63(Suppl 1):S22-S24.
Get full access to expert-backed nutrition support, high-value coupons on our trusted brands and much more!
Free Ready-for-Baby Savings Pack.
Around 35 weeks of pregnancy expect to receive our Baby Pack filled with high-value coupons and useful information you and your baby will love!
Special Member Savings
Receive personalized coupons and savings on trusted products in your email inbox - and home mailbox - as your baby grows.
Expert advice, articles, recipes, tips and tools for all the special, hard and at times hectic days of parenting.
Nutritional guidance for growth
Specialized nutritional guidance and science-based expertise for every stage of the parenting journey - from preconception to toddlerhood.
*When registration is during pregnancy. If your baby’s already been born, expect to see your kit within a month
Still haven't found what you are looking for?
Try our new smart question engine.