Priobiotics have been touted as a good way to solve and prevent digestive and other health conditions. You may worry that they aren't safe for your baby, but in most cases they won't cause any harm and may offer health benefits. Always talk with your doctor before using probiotics to treat your baby for a health issue.
Most babies will not be ready to eat yogurt until they six months old, says Dr. Frank Greer, former chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. Before this age, most babies cannot digest yogurt properly. If your family has a history of food allergies, talk with your baby's pediatrician to determine if you should hold off on introducing yogurt until he is older.
Probiotic Health Benefits
Probiotics in yogurt are beneficial bacteria that may help support the health of your baby's digestive system and have been linked to a reduction in diarrhea among infants, including those who contract rotavirus, reports Athos Bousvaros, MD, MPH, of Children's Hospital Boston. Other studies suggest that probiotics may be able to treat eczema, asthma and allergies. This research is based on probiotic pill supplements and Bousvaros does not recommend using them for children under 1, but probiotic yogurt may be a healthy alternative for babies who suffer from these conditions. A 2009 study conducted at the University of Texas found that colicky babies had less beneficial bacteria in their intestines than non-colicky infants, suggesting that increasing probiotic intake may alleviate colic.
Not all types of yogurt are good options for babies. Greer suggests choosing a full-fat yogurt because children under age 2 need the fat in dairy foods to help them grow. Avoid artificially sweetened yogurts unless your baby has diabetes. To be sure the yogurt you are feeding your baby contains probiotics, look for a product that states that it contains live and active cultures. Opt for plain yogurt to start with and when introducing flavored types, be sure the fruit it is sweetened with is one your child has already tried.
When introducing probiotic yogurt into your baby's diet, watch for signs of an intolerance or an allergy. An allergic reaction to yogurt can be life-threatening and symptoms include swelling, hives, trouble breathing and wheezing. An intolerance will produce diarrhea, cramps or gas. In either case, you may have to avoid or limit the amount of yogurt you serve your baby. If this is the case, talk with your baby's doctor about alternative forms of probiotics that are safe for her.
- Dr. Greene; Full-Fat Yogurt for Infants and Toddlers; Dr. Alan Greene; October 2003
- "Pediatric Views"; Understanding Pros and Cons of Probiotics; Athos Bousvaros, MD, MPH; February 2007
- "The New York Times"; The Claim: Probiotics Can Soothe a Colicky Baby; Anahad O'Connor; February 2011
- Baby Center: When Can My Baby Eat Yogurt?