The 411 on Infant Probiotics & Prebiotics
Whether you’re a new mom or you’ve been on the scene for a while, chances are you’ve heard
some discussion about probiotics and prebiotics for infants. That’s because they’re being added
to formulas and even given as supplements to some babies.
Why are they so important? Does your baby need them?
We’re going to answer those questions and more as we dive deep into the world of infant
probiotics and prebiotics and look at their benefits, if they’re safe, and what role they play in
some baby formulas.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics represent many different strains of live microorganisms, usually bacteria that are
beneficial for your body and keep it working well. They are a combination of live good bacteria
and/or yeasts that naturally live in your body. Probiotics can help to maintain a good balance of
bacteria in the digestive tract.
If you’ve been doing your homework about probiotics, you may have seen these main strains
● Saccharomyces boulardii
Although you may already have these good bacteria in your body, some people take probiotic
supplements to increase the amount. While probiotics can be taken as supplements, they can
also be found in foods like pickles, sauerkraut, yogurt, and other dairy products.
Benefits of Probiotics for Infants
Probiotics are often given to infants because they’re born with sterile GI systems that could
make them prone to distress. As they get older, they build up bacteria that can help them build
their immune systems and prevent infections.
Probiotics can add good bacteria to an infant’s stomach more quickly. This can help if they
develop a condition that causes symptoms like constipation before they naturally build up their
Studies have also shown the benefits probiotics can have in infants. One study found that using
one particular probiotic in babies in their first three months helped to avoid acid reflux,
constipation, and other conditions.
Another study found that probiotics can also help to reduce colic symptoms. Researchers found
that infants taking a probiotic supplement cried less than those who did not take the
It’s important to note that any benefits of probiotics seem to occur as long as the probiotics are
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that research has shown that some probiotics can
also help to prevent or treat diarrhea and eczema in children. Other health benefits being looked
at include the possibility of lower risk of food-related allergies and asthma as well as prevention
of urinary tract infections.
Are Probiotics for Infants Safe?
Probiotics are not FDA regulated but have been shown to have very low side effects in children
and adults. Research indicates that probiotics are safe and well-tolerated in healthy infants.
Premature infants and those with very low birth weight have also been able to tolerate probiotics
There has also been research to indicate that there are no safety concerns with regards to
growth and any other adverse effects in babies who have formula with probiotics.
If you’re thinking about giving your baby a probiotic supplement or formula with probiotics, you
should run it by your pediatrician first. They will know your baby and can determine if it’s a good
fit for them.
Formulas with Probiotics & Prebiotics
As you look at different formulas, you’ve probably noticed that many include probiotics and
prebiotics (we’ll get to these guys in a bit).
At Organic Baby Formula.com, all of the HiPP formulas we offer include probiotics and
prebiotics. HiPP formulas include the lactobacillus strain of bacteria. This is naturally found in
the human mouth and gut.
The prebiotics used by HiPP formula are galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS). These are obtained
from lactose and are a natural component of breast milk oligosaccharides.
What about Prebiotics?
As you research probiotics, you’ve probably heard prebiotics mentioned too. Prebiotics are
special plant fibers that help healthy bacteria grow in your gut. They are a food source for your
gut’s healthy bacteria.
Prebiotics can help with things like calcium absorption and keeping the cells that line the gut
healthy. Prebiotics are found in plenty of food such as:
Many times, the term prebiotic is not used on an ingredient label in packaged food. You may
see words like galacto-oligosaccharides, fructooligosaccharides, oligofructose, chicory fiber, and
inulin instead. If you see these listed, it means that the item includes prebiotics.
Why are Prebiotics Added to Baby Formula?
Manufacturers add prebiotics to baby formula because of their presence in breast milk.
Research shows that infants who have formula with prebiotics have a better stool consistency
and a lower stool pH compared to babies who have formula without it.
Are Prebiotics in Baby Formula Safe?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, prebiotics added to infant formula don’t
appear to harm healthy formula. But, more research needs to be done on its effects.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to probiotics and prebiotics in formula, there has been research to indicate their
benefits, although more studies need to be done. Many formulas do contain either probiotics,
prebiotics, or both.
If you’re thinking about starting your baby on formula with probiotics or prebiotics or giving
supplements, talk to your pediatrician to get the green light. You always want to make sure
whatever you’re giving your baby is best for them!