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Probiotics play a really crucial role in the health of our children. These live bacteria and yeasts, that provide a host of health benefits for kids, have been shown to improve digestion, boost the immune system, and counter the negative side effects of antibiotics. But when should kids take probiotics and how do you choose the right one?
When to Take a Probiotic
One of the most common reasons people take probiotics is to promote healthy digestion. If you’re struggling with digestive issues like bloating, constipation, or diarrhea, a probiotic may be just what you need. Probiotics can help restore the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, which can improve digestion and relieve symptoms.
But probiotics aren’t just helpful for digestive issues. Studies show that they can also help boost the immune system, which is especially important during cold and flu season. Probiotics have been shown to reduce the duration and severity of colds, and they may even help prevent infections in the first place.
Other times when you may want to consider taking a probiotic include:
– If you’re taking antibiotics. Antibiotics are notorious for wiping out the good bacteria in your gut along with the bad, which can lead to digestive issues. Taking a probiotic can help replace the good bacteria and restore balance.
– If you’re traveling. Traveling can disrupt your gut bacteria, leading to digestive issues. Taking a probiotic before and during your trip can help prevent these issues.
– If you have a weakened immune system. If you have an autoimmune disease, are undergoing chemotherapy, or have another condition that weakens your immune system, taking a probiotic may help boost your defenses.
When Should Kids Take a Probiotic?
Kids are not immune to digestive issues or immune system problems, and they may benefit from taking a probiotic as well. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when giving probiotics to children.
If you do research and you’re still not sure, talk to a healthcare expert before giving your child any supplements. While probiotics are generally safe for kids, they may not be appropriate for kids with certain medical conditions or those taking certain medications.
Kids Could Benefit from Probiotics If…
– If they’re experiencing digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, or gas. Probiotics can help restore balance to the gut bacteria and alleviate these symptoms.
– If they’re taking antibiotics. Antibiotics can disrupt the gut microbiome in kids just like they can in adults, so giving your child a probiotic during and after their course of antibiotics can help restore balance.
– If they’re prone to infections or frequently get sick. Probiotics may help boost the immune system in kids, which can help reduce the frequency and severity of infections.
– If they’re on a restricted diet. If your child is on a restricted diet due to allergies, sensitivities, or other reasons, they may not be getting all the nutrients they need. A probiotic can help improve digestion and nutrient absorption. This is especially the case for autistic children and they should be on probiotics daily for these reasons.
One thing to keep in mind when giving probiotics to kids is that there can be some variability in the strains of bacteria used in different probiotics. Some strains have been more thoroughly studied in children than others, so it’s worth doing your research and choosing a high-quality probiotic that’s been shown to be safe and effective for kids. Let’s first talk about that!
How to Choose Which Probiotic to Give Your Child
To put it simply, you should choose a probiotic with the right strains of bacteria for the purpose you’re giving it. Here are the most common situations in which you would want to give your child probiotics and which strains are right for that condition.
- Antibiotic-associated diarrhea – if your child has diarrhea while on antibiotics, they need a probiotic that contains Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Saccharomyces boulardii like this one.
- Virus-induced diarrhea – when your child has diarrhea from a stomach bug or virus, they need a probiotic that contains Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus rhamnosus like this one.
- To boost the immune system – if you’re fighting colds or want to prevent illnesses, choose a broad spectrum probiotic for your kids like this one.
- To fight tummy upset in infants – for babies who were born via c-section or when baby or mommy has to have antibiotics, choose a probiotic formulated for infants, like Mommy’s Bliss Probiotic or LoveBug Tiny Tummies.
- Autism – for children on the spectrum or with autism, their gut health is critical and you should choose a probiotic containing Lactobacillus reuteri and Bifidobacterium, like this one.
- Constipation – Probiotics work wonders to help keep infants and toddlers regular when it comes to bowel movements. Choose a probiotic that contains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium together. Try this one.
When to Give Your Kids Probiotics
As for the time of day, you should give a daily probiotic to your kids with a meal and preferably first thing in the morning. Although the research is contradicting, most agree that probiotics should be given to kids with a meal or an hour before a meal.
If your child is fighting a virus, diarrhea or constipation, there is no set time to stick to. When my kids have diarrhea, I immediately give a probiotic, regardless of the time of day.
Probiotics are a part of our daily regimen most days. Dr. Berg, whom I trust very much, suggests to take probiotics long-term with short breaks in time. For example, he recommends taking probiotics for 3-4 months, then a one month pause, and then resume probiotics again. There isn’t a perfect answer, a lot of it should be based on your gut instinct. If you notice irregular bowel movements in your kids, frequent illness, or just want to keep their immune system healthy, probiotics are an essential natural supplement to give your kids.
My Top 10 Probiotics for Kids & the Whole Family
With so many probiotics available, it can be challenging to figure out which ones are the best for your child. Below are my top 10 probiotics. Yes, I’ve tried them all! Each one has its advantages. You’ll also see my favorites for babies and toddlers in this list too.
Also important to note: you do not want to stick to just one probiotic long-term as that can cause resistance. That’s why we’ve tried all of these in this list! Because you’ll want to take the appropriate type for the condition you’re covering with the probiotic and then work in a “regular” complex. For example, we will take a chewable by Garden of Life daily, but when sick or fighting diarrhea or constipation, we switch it up to the probiotic that contains the appropriate strains of bacteria.
Here are the top 10 probiotics for kids that can help keep your child healthy and happy.
This is our #1 choice for probiotics for the whole family. Dr. Berg’s formula contains 12 strains, including Lactobacillus fermentum, one of the most well-studied strains of probiotics. It can help improve digestive health, boost the immune system, and relieve diarrhea. (fast-acting)
This probiotic is designed specifically for children and includes a blend of 14 different strains of bacteria to promote a healthy digestive system. It also contains vitamin C for immune support. This is second best because it comes in chewable form, which is ideal for toddlers and kids who don’t like the strong taste of liquid supplements. My toddlers took this from age 2 to 5.
This pediatrician-recommended probiotic includes three well studied strains of bacteria to help support a healthy gut in babies 0-6 months. It contains no artificial colors, flavors, sugar, preservatives and is free from common allergens like gluten and dairy.
These probiotic drops include Lactobacillus reuteri, which has been shown to help relieve colic and improve digestive health in infants. They’re also suitable for older children and can help support overall immune function.
Great for the whole family, recommended for 8yr olds and over. These capsules are easy to take, only require 1 capsule per person and boast 1000x better survivability than other probiotics.
This probiotic includes a blend of 12 bacterial strains, is vegan and organic! It is free of allergens, soy and sugar.
Sometimes powder is just the way to go! For my toddlers, there was a period of time that powder probiotics just made the most sense. I’d easily hide the powder in some apple sauce or yogurt and they’d eat it all up.
This probiotic is what I gave my infants when they were small. It helps relieve gas, colic and aids the immune system. This is easy to give and works fast!
This probiotic includes four different strains of bacteria and is designed to help support a healthy balance of gut bacteria in children. It’s also free from common allergens like gluten and dairy, and the small tablets are easy for kids to swallow. My kids enjoy the flavor of this chewable!
These chewable probiotics come in a variety of flavors like strawberry and orange, making them appealing to kids. They contain a blend of four different strains of bacteria and can help support digestive health and immune function. We have the powder form of this brand right now, and I’ll add it to our homemade lemon juice.
In conclusion, probiotics are safe and beneficial to give to your kids every single day. Between helping to prevent illness and healing and promoting optimal function in the digestive tract, giving your kids probiotics is a great idea. And hopefully, you are better able to choose the right probiotic for your kids!