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PLAYING: Infant probiotic | What to Look for

Infant probiotic | What to Look for

By Dr. Ted Jablonski, family physician

2 mins to read May 24, 2018

Probiotics have become a trendy topic in the adult health world. These live, safe microorganisms, or “friendly bacteria,” have been shown to be helpful in ensuring a healthy gut (digestive tract) and more.[1]

For adults, probiotics can be found in certain fermented foods (like yogurt, miso and sauerkraut) and natural health products. Are probiotics beneficial for babies too?

Probiotics in babies

The good news is that in babies, probiotics can provide certain health benefits,[2] contributing to the development of healthy gut flora and a strong immune system. These two benefits are essential for babies, considering how vulnerable new babies are after birth, and how critical the early months are in their development.

Sources of infant probiotics

The key source of probiotics for babies is breast milk. Doctors agree that breastfeeding is the best way to provide probiotics to babies.

For parents who cannot, or choose not to breastfeed, formula feeding provides vital nutrients and energy. Babies fed with formula may benefit from probiotics.

Here are three things to look for in an infant probiotic formula:

1. Probiotic type

Different types of probiotic bacteria may provide health benefits. Bifidobacteria are one type of good bacteria[3] and account for up to 90% of the total naturally occurring bacteria found in the gut of healthy, breastfed babies.[4].

2. Supports brain and eye development

DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is an Omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for a healthy brain. In babies, DHA helps to support baby’s normal brain and eye development.[5]

3. Small proteins

Choosing a formula with small proteins, like 100% whey protein, partially broken down, can help your baby have softer stools, compared to formulas with whole proteins.[6] This means that the protein is already partially digested for your baby’s developing tummy.

Talk to your doctor about breastfeeding and about safe and effective sources of probiotics for your baby.

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.  ©2018 Nestlé.

Dr. Ted Jablonski, MD, CCFP, FCFP

Dr. Ted Jablonski, MD, CCFP, FCFP

Dr. Ted Jablonski is a Calgary-based family physician. He completed his medical education at the University of Manitoba and has practiced and taught medicine in rural Manitoba, Northern Saskatchewan, and Northwestern Ontario. In addition to his duties as a family physician and educator, Dr. Jablonski is a clinic associate at the Men’s Sexual Health Clinic at the Southern Alberta Institute of Urology and does consultant work in sexual and transgender medicine for Southern Alberta.


  • [1] Hill C et al. Expert consensus document. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 2014 Aug;11(8):506-14. Retrieved from: Accessed on April 19, 2018.

  • [2] Joint FAO/WHO Expert consultation on evaluation of health and nutritional properties of probiotics in food including powder milk with live lactic acid bacteria, October, 2001.

  • [3] Saavedra JM. Nutr Clin Pract 2007;22:351–65.


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