What are some good food sources of beneficial bacteria?
Probiotic supplements for baby and mom are a great way to "cover your bases" when it comes to your baby's microbiome. Having said that, adding fermented foods is an excellent (and fun) way to introduce a diverse array of micro-organisms (not to mention fibre and prebiotics)!
Food sources of probiotics:
- Vegetables: depending on what's available in your local grocery store or farmer's market, you may be able to find things like fermented beets, carrots, cabbage (sauerkraut), etc.
- Some pickle brands (ex: "Bubbies") are fermented and rich in bacteria.
- Coconut water kefir: to make it you would need a high quality unprocessed coconut water and either add in a starter kit package (easiest way but more expensive), or you can buy the actual kefir grains and keep it alive (more involved process, but definitely the cheapest as it will live forever if you take care of it).
- A high quality organic diary kefir. A high quality one will be quite sour and have a slightly carbonated taste due to the fermentation. An easy way to give this to kids is make it into a mango lassi by blending the kefir with mango and voila!
If your little one isn't tolerating the above food options, try adding a little liquid from the ferments into their food.
Be cautious with kombucha as it's typically caffeinated and often high in sugar.
Caution about fermented foods
It's important to start slowly when incorporating fermented foods into your baby's diet or after antibiotics (a little goes a long way!).
We suggest beginning with a half tsp of juice (or a 1/4 tsp juice for those that seem more sensitive or that are on the smaller side) and build up. Don't start with raw cruciferous vegetables as this can be very hard on their little systems in large amounts (gas producing). Breastfeeding mama's should be careful with this; if you eat a tsp and your baby has gas - back off and try again. You may be able to slowly work your way up!
Lastly, too much salt can be challenging for their kidneys (especially children under the age of 1 year). Be cautious with things like sauerkraut as they are often salt brined.