Probiotics have become a trendy topic in the adult health world. These live, safe microorganisms, or “friendly bacteria,” have been shown to be helpful in ensuring a healthy gut (digestive tract) and more, but are probiotics beneficial for babies too?

Probiotics in babies

The good news is that in babies, probiotics can provide certain health benefits, contributing to the development of healthy gut flora and a strong immune system. These two benefits are essential for babies, considering how vulnerable new babies are after birth, and how critical the early months are in their development.

Sources of infant probiotics

The key source of probiotics for babies is breast milk. Doctors agree that breastfeeding is the best way to provide probiotics to babies.

For parents who cannot, or choose not to breastfeed, formula feeding provides vital nutrients and energy babies need. Babies fed with formula may benefit from probiotics, but not all formulas contain probiotics.

Here are three things to look for in an infant formula:

Bifidobacteria are one type of good bacteria and account for up to 90 percent of the total naturally occurring bacteria found in the gut of healthy, breastfed babies. Nestlé® Good Start® Probiotic Baby Formula contains B. lactis, a common type of Bifidobacteria that has been clinically shown to support a healthy digestive tract flora.

DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is an Omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for a healthy brain. In babies, DHA helps to support baby’s normal brain and eye development.

Choosing a formula with small proteins, like 100% whey protein, partially broken down, can help your baby have softer stools, compared to formulas with whole proteins. This means that the protein is already partially digested for your baby’s developing tummy.

Talk to your doctor about breastfeeding and about safe and effective sources of probiotics for your baby, such as certain formulas and drops.