When it comes to their physical, mental, and emotional health, all parents want the very best for their children.
Whether you’re encouraging your child to exercise, brush their teeth, or do their homework, a successful parent judges themselves on how well they can provide for and protect their kids.
A healthy diet is a critical aspect of the physical growth and maturation of all infants, toddlers, and adolescents. But, in order to ensure your child has every opportunity to flourish, you (the parent) need to know the best snacks and meals to help them become their best self.
To learn more about the role probiotics can play in your child’s happy and healthy physical development, read on for our Guide To Probiotics for Kids:
What Are Probiotics?
When most parents think of “bacteria,” they think of something they want their children to avoid desperately. Whether it comes from themselves, their toys, or other children on the playground, many parents go to great lengths to ensure as little interaction between their kids and bacteria as possible.
Unfortunately, harmful bacteria are nearly impossible to eradicate fully. Fortunately, however, there are excellent sources of healthy, beneficial bacteria that can significantly help our body perform its essential functions. Enter, probiotics:
Probiotics are an essential kind of healthful bacteria that serve to protect our immune system and keep our bodily functions in tip-top shape.
Rather than damaging our bodies like their harmful bacterial relatives, probiotics keep us safe by fighting off the kinds of negative bacteria that can wear out our immune system and weaken our gut microbiome -- the collection of all living organisms inside our body.
This collection includes:
While many of these microorganisms are harmless, a diet full of probiotics can give our body the tools it needs to protect itself from any organism that can cause it harm.
Plus, probiotic-heavy meal plans often coincide with healthy eating habits, such as avoiding a surplus of complex carbs or excess starch, further promoting the kinds of snacks and foods that benefit a child’s body and mind.
What’s the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?
While probiotics get more attention than prebiotics, it is still essential to understand the sources and health benefits of both before incorporating them into your or your child’s diet.
While probiotics are healthy bacteria and yeast that balance out your microbiome, prebiotics are plant fibers found in fruits and vegetables that foster the production of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
As non-living organisms, prebiotics do not play an active role in fighting harmful bacteria. Instead, they serve as a source of healthy, essential food for your microbiome that nourishes it
while passing through your digestive tract.
Though prebiotics are indigestible by the body, they are critical for giving your body’s probiotics supply the fuel it needs to do its job.
We can assist this critical process by making good use of prebiotic foods such as:
Bonus Tip: To get the most out of prebiotics in your child’s diet, try to find the prebiotic foods they enjoy the most and combine them with probiotic foods (listed below). Prebiotics are one of probiotics’ favorite snacks, so combining them can enhance the effectiveness of both!
Do Probiotics Help Kids?
We know how probiotics (and prebiotics) can support good bacteria and a healthy immune system in adults, but do they do the same for kids?
Yes -- but, read closely to see how:
Just like adults, children have a growing and evolving microbiome filled with a thriving population of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa.
Unlike adults, however, children’s microbiomes are yet to reach full strength and capacity -- a possible reason why younger children are more susceptible to illness than adults. Therefore, it’s possible that a diet rich in healthy probiotics and supported by your child’s doctor can boost the strength and efficiency of their microbiome.
In reputable, peer-reviewed publications like American Family Physician and leading hospitals such as Children’s Health Dallas, researchers suggest that probiotics can help both children by reducing symptoms of the gut and immune distress such as :
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Additionally, other scientific investigations also suggest that pregnant women who consume probiotics may lower their odds of giving birth to children who suffer from eczema or severe allergies, but further research is still necessary.
So, while probiotics certainly have the chance to benefit your child, scientists and researchers are yet to offer a full guarantee on why, when, and how certain probiotics benefit them. With this in mind, like every children’s health tip, we recommend doing your own research and keeping everything in healthy moderation.
Bonus Tip: Always speak with your child’s pediatrician before incorporating probiotics into their daily diet. Besides having knowledge specific to your child, they can also suggest particular probiotic strains to help combat any health issues your child might battle.
Can Probiotics Make Kids Sick?
While there is no definitive research, study, or investigation that claims probiotics are bad for children or make them ill, here are some important things to keep in mind:
As with many health and dietary guidelines, many doctors advise taking extreme precautions for children under one year of age. Generally, this means avoiding probiotic consumption for infants unless otherwise recommended by your child’s pediatrician.
On a similar note, scientists recommend avoiding probiotic-heavy diets for children who suffer from a compromised immune system. Since children with this affliction have a weaker microbiome, they may not react as well to an influx of probiotics in their diet.
Best Probiotics For Kids
As any parent knows, it can be hard to find a balance of tasty and healthy food for kids.
Whether your child is a picky eater, has a stubborn sweet tooth, or a taste for junk food, we understand how difficult it can be to get them to eat snacks and meals that benefit their body.
In addition to checking out our article on BioHacking Gut Health with Fermented Foods, where we explore healthy probiotic sources like yogurt and kombucha, we also recommend checking out our delicious selection of probiotic-packed sauerkraut!
Though you might assume children don’t like sauerkraut, this healthy, tangy, and delicious cabbage is a beloved staple in the diet of healthy kids from Mongolia to Germany and everywhere in between! If your kids love pickles or other sour foods, Cleveland Kraut might become their new favorite snack!
To learn more about Cleveland Kitchen’s mission to bring fermented foods like sauerkraut to the American diet, check out our diverse selection of delicious krauts and our recipes page for kid-friendly, probiotic-rich meals like lemon garlic pasta, turkey sandwiches with beet kraut, and roasted garlic macaroni and cheese!
Medical Disclaimer: All information, content, and material of this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.