There are a whole host of reason to take probiotics, as counterintuitive as it might seem to be putting bacteria into your body instead of trying to keep it out. But research has shown that a daily dose of probiotics can help to fight diarrhea, Crohn’s disease, UTIs, IBS, digestive tract infections, constipation, and children’s eczema. Probiotics help us to maintain a healthy gut, so that our bodies can function in top condition. And while it may not be the best news for us adults to hear, the benefits of probiotics for children is actually greater than for those of use on the other side of the hill. If you’re looking at using probiotic supplements for your family, and especially, your children, consult your family physician first. Not every supplement out there is the proper strain to be treating what it claims it will, and since selling supplements is not reliant upon FDA-approval, you want to make sure that you’re buying the proper strain from a brand that you and your doctor trust. Below, we’ve gathered a whole host of probiotics that are formulated by health professionals, and approved by users all over. We hope these help keep those tummies happy!
Our Top 3 Picks
- Primary Flora Probiotic
- Vegetarian & Gluten-Free
- FloraTummys Sprinkles Kids
- Helps with Diarrhea
- LoveBug Tiny Tummies Probiotic
- Helps Reduce Crying
Our Picks Of The Best Probiotics for Kids
Criteria Used In Evaluation of the Best Probiotics for Kids and Babies
This is, of course, our top criteria for any product that is taken orally on a daily basis. With probiotics, safety has a lot to do with the CFU count. CFU, or colony forming units, is a quantifier for the number of bacteria that are able to divide and form colonies. Infant and baby probiotics normally contain less than 5 billion CFU, while adult products range from 10 to 20 billion CFU.
Parents have asked about higher CFU counts helping with ailments like eczema and respiratory conditions. There are some studies to support these claims, but you should never attempt to treat such conditions with probiotics without approval from your pediatrician. It should be noted that our top picks err on the side of lower rather than higher. For example, LoveBug’s probiotic sprinkles for babies 0 to 6 months contains 1 billion CFU per serving, which we believe is best for infants.
The most effective probiotics for kids and babies contain a variety of probiotics and prebiotics, along with CFU counts that are appropriate for specific age levels. For example, a probiotic for an older child would need a higher bacteria count that a probiotic for infants. On the other hand, we don’t want probiotic counts to be too high. Remember–probiotics are meant to balance a child’s gut bacteria, and that can only be done through appropriate dosages. That’s why we made sure all our picks contained the appropriate CFU level for their target age group.
Along with the right formulation, probiotic supplements must be properly packaged in order to maintain its live cultures. Individual packets are best for powders, while capsules should be stored in opaque, desiccant bottles with advanced moisture and oxygen absorbing technology. With proper storage, all the products on our list will maintain their effectiveness for two years without the need for refrigeration.
For us, ingredients are not just about what a product contains. When it comes to daily supplements for kids and babies, we also pay attention to what it doesn’t contain. Some companies offer vegetarian, and gluten- and sugar-free products. We know how important this is to parents of children with certain ailments and food allergies. Or, maybe you just care about giving your kids a high-quality, natural product. Either way, we made sure to choose products with clean formulations that are safe for daily consumption.
As for what our picks contain, what was most important to us was the combination of probiotic strains. Most of the probiotics on our list contain proprietary blends of several strains, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS®-1 and Bifidobacterium lactis. These probiotics are backed by extensive scientific studies, so we know they’re safe and effective for children.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are probiotic supplements as effective as probiotics from food?
A: Fermented food and drinks are the best sources of probiotics, just like fruits and veggies are the best sources of vitamins and minerals. However, it’s impossible for many people to get an optimal balance of nutrients from food alone. This is particularly true with probiotics, which we need from the time that we’re babies. High-quality probiotics with the right combination of probiotic and prebiotic strains, along with other active ingredients, are highly effective in maintaining a child’s digestive health.
Q: Which is better: refrigerated or shelf-stable?
A: The idea that refrigerated probiotics are the only way to go is a persistent myth. It makes sense, considering that probiotics are live cultures. Furthermore, storage methods for pills and capsules were not as advanced as they are now. In past generations, refrigerated products were superior, but that’s no longer a problem because of technologically advanced packaging methods. Another advantage of shelf-stable probiotics is that you can travel with them since they fit easily inside a purse or suitcase.
Q: Will probiotics boost my child’s immune system?
A: Probiotics from both food and supplement sources can help children who see more than their fair share of illnesses. There are compelling studies that show children who regularly incorporate probiotics into their diets decrease their chance of developing colds, ear and throat infections by 20 percent. This may be linked to the ability of probiotics to replenish good bacteria, thereby giving children greater protection from the bad bacterias that cause illnesses.
Q: Are there any side-effects to probiotics for kids and babies?
A: Probiotic supplements are generally considered safe, but it’s essential to stick with products that are formulated for kids and babies. Mild side-effects such as gas and bloating are possible, in which case you may want to switch to a different product.
However, these side effects can be very serious in children who are immunocompromised or have other serious ailments. That’s why it’s important to check with your pediatrician prior to administering any probiotic products.
Q: Can lactose-intolerant children take probiotics?
A: There are many lactose-free probiotic supplements on the market these days, which are safe for lactose-intolerant children. FloraTummy products, for example, are lactose-free, as well as being free of food allergens, including peanuts, eggs, and gluten. An important tip when choosing lactose-intolerant probiotics is to look at the label. You will want to avoid products containing ingredients such as whey, curds, or milk by-products.
Q: How should I store probiotic pills and capsules?
A: Keeping shelf-stable probiotics fresh and potent is easy, thanks to freeze-drying techniques and advanced packaging methods. Pills, capsules, and even powders should be kept at room temperature in a dry setting, away from heat, light, and humidity.
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