Baby Care Blog

Good Tummy Bacteria & Your Baby's Health

As a new parent, you figure out pretty quickly that a happy tummy makes for a happy baby. Gas bubbles, hiccups, burps, poop — anything that causes stomach discomfort can lead to a cranky baby who just can’t stay comfortable, despite your best efforts.

What you might not know is that there’s a lot happening in that tiny tummy. As your baby grows and develops, her intestinal system is developing too. That’s why many babies seem to “outgrow” tummy issues. With time, the microbes in their tummies make things like digestion, absorbing nutrients and bowel regulation easier.

Also, good gut flora, the microorganisms living in your intestinal tract, help to strengthen baby’s immune system, so she can fight off colds and infections better. In fact, as adults, 80% of our immune system resides in our gut!

Your health starts in the gut

When you think about intestinal health, that’s when the term “probiotic” comes into the gut equation. While probiotics have been studied for decades, they became increasingly popular in 2016 as a dietary supplement that could help ease a variety of uncomfortable conditions. Probiotics work by putting more “good” gut bacteria in your system to offset the “bad” bacteria. They are highly recommended by gastroenterologists as a natural way to support intestinal health.

Newborns meet microbes

Your baby’s intestinal health works the same way, but as a newborn, her gut flora is still maturing. It first started to develop in utero. Within minutes of being born, skin-to-skin contact exposes your baby to your skin microbes. By the time your baby is just a few days old, she’ll have been exposed to trillions of microbes that will eventually play a critical role in her health.

Benefits of good bacteria

When bad bacteria enters your baby’s system, her good bacteria will go to battle to keep her healthy. Think of microbes as the good bacteria that acts as a buffer. Newborns typically have loose junctures (gaps) between the cells of the stomach lining that grow tighter as your baby gets older.

How breast milk helps

During the first months of life, breast milk helps to close the gaps by coating the lining with antibodies. Plus, the sugar found in breast milk naturally fuels the growth of good microbes. Prior to birth, similar antibodies were passed to your baby through the placenta.

This means breastfeeding your baby is a natural way to help her build up good gut flora, which in turn, helps her boost her immune system. Then if an “icky” bacteria enters your baby’s system, she can more easily fight it off because she has more natural probiotics in her system.

Mom’s gut health matters

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, your diet can help the development of your baby’s gut too. Taking probiotics and eating natural foods instead of highly processed foods is better for all tummies involved, because they encourage the growth of good gut flora.

Foods like yogurt and fermented products (like sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi and kombucha) can balance the microbes in your adult system. So while you’re helping your baby develop a happy tummy, don’t forget to take care of yours too!

What’s your gut flora IQ? Do you take probiotics to support your intestinal health? Let us know in the comment section on the Boudreaux’s Butt Paste® Facebook page.