<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=246696873141607&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Getting a Good Gut

Why Baby’s Microbiome Matters

Inside everyone’s intestinal tract is a world teeming with life. Trillions of microbes, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses, live and function within the gut. This microscopic world is the microbiome - and it’s the key to developing a healthy future.

Building from the beginning

Right from conception, baby’s microbiome is developing. At birth, microbes are passed from mom to bub, colonizing the baby’s gut with its first major group of bacteria.

A baby born vaginally receives microbes from mom’s vagina and gut, which are important for early microbiome health. A baby born via cesarean section has fewer microbes transferred from mom. Early skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding also provide further ‘seeding’ of mom’s microbes.

Research suggests changes to mom’s microbiome during pregnancy may support this early transfer of microbiomes.

A healthy, diverse microbiome—one that has lots of helpful bacteria in the right amounts—is important for good health. It supports good brain function, a strong immune system, and may lower the risk of developing conditions such as asthma, eczema, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

Upsetting the balance

While the medical community is still learning about what makes up a healthy microbiome, we know there are a few ways early in life baby’s microbiome can get off to a rocky start:

    • Increase in cesarean section births. This disrupts the normal transfer of vaginal and gut microbes from mom to baby.
    • Decrease in breastfeeding rates. Breastfed babies benefit from probiotics and prebiotics in breast milk.
    • Antibiotic use during pregnancy and early in life. Antibiotics kill certain bad bacteria but also wipe out many good bacteria. This allows bad gut bacteria more room to grow and unbalances the microbiome.
    • Trying to have a “germ-free” home. Many bacteria are our allies not enemies, and early exposure can help build immunity.
    • Offering sweet or nutrient-poor first foods. The first 6 months of introducing solids is critical for developing baby’s food preferences as well as establishing a healthy microbiome. Vegetables are fantastic for bub as they’re nutrient-dense and packed with prebiotics to support good gut health; as are fermented dairy products (such as yoghurt, a natural source of probiotics), and whole grains. A healthy microbiome does not thrive in a diet of high sugar, high acid (apple paste), or highly processed foods.

How can this affect baby?

A healthy microbiome helps the body digest and metabolize food. For baby, this means good early growth, and long-term may decrease the risk of developing intestinal diseases, obesity, and diabetes.

The gut also supports the developing immune system. Most immune cells are inside the gut and it’s thought an unbalanced microbiome - one with an increase in bad gut microbes - may increase baby’s risk of autoimmune conditions such as asthma, eczema, and allergies. As baby gets older, their risk of other immune-related diseases may increase due to an early unbalanced microbiome.

Lots of good gut microbes also support the gut wall, providing a protective barrier between your gut and bloodstream. Without a healthy gut wall, bacteria can cross into your circulation and potentially cause illness or disease.

Feeding the good guys

How to maintain a healthy baby gut?

Thankfully, supporting the development of baby’s microbiome is simple, by providing baby with good nutrition from birth.

If it works for mom and baby, breastfeeding is best for good gut health. Bifidobacterium is one of the first bacteria to grow inside the baby’s gut, helping break down breast milk for use. Breast milk contains prebiotic human milk oligosaccharide, the food needed by Bifidobacterium to grow and flourish.

Once baby starts eating solids, offer a range of age-appropriate foods. Include plenty of colorful vegetables and flavors and then, when appropriate, move onto other family foods. A diverse diet builds a diverse microbiome.

Introducing high-fiber foods as baby grows also supports a healthy microbiome. Some gut microbes break down fiber into short-chain fatty acids that play an important role in health and preventing disease.

Prebiotics are also an important food source for good bacteria and are found in many vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. And for added good gut support, probiotics offer many benefits for little one’s tummy.

Set for life

Understanding the importance of a healthy microbiome means you’re now armed with the knowledge to give baby and their microbes the best start in life.

Disclaimer: The information provided is the opinion of Good Feeding, it has not been evaluated by healthcare professionals, and is for educational purposes only.  Before starting any new foods or feeding practices, please consult your baby's healthcare professional.

SUBSCRIBE TO UPDATES



A taste of what you'll discover

Don’t be weighed down by concerns over heavy metals

As parents, we all want to do what's best for our babies, infants, and children. So, it can be more than a little concerning with the news that our family's youngest members could be at risk from the very thing meant to nurture us all – food.

How do we be sure that what we are putting in baby's mouth isn't doing more harm than good?  

Read more

Important News for Babies Approaching 4 months old

4 months of age signals the start of an exciting window of opportunity, that if taken advantage of has the ability to not only transform your parenting journey (and family mealtimes) going forward, but more importantly, your child’s health and wellness potentials for life. 4 months marks the important opportunity to start ‘Flavour Training’!  

Read more

Complementary Feeding vs. Flavor Training

By Diana K Rice, Nutrition, LLC, RD, LD, CLEC

In the medical community, there's a clear consensus on when infants should begin complementary feeding: at 6 months old. But despite the AAP, ACOG, AAFP and WHO recommendations being very clear about this timeline, parents often start much earlier.

The primary reason that official guidelines push for this 6 month mark is that very early introduction of complementary foods has been shown to reduce breastfeeding's overall duration. The medical community also holds concerns that introducing solids prior to the age of 6 months could increase the risk of choking and aspiration, lead to diarrhea and poor gut health and contribute to the onset of certain chronic diseases later in life, including diabetes and celiac disease.

So why is there so much confusion over this?

Read more

Food with thought: Encouraging a healthy relationship with food.

By Diana K Rice, Nutrition, LLC, RD, LD, CLEC

Starting solids poses such a challenge because we’re not only trying to sort through all of the available information and opinions on the topic, but also fit a brand new feeding and food preparation routine into our already busy lives. And, in the hustle to get this done, we often forget the most important element of introducing our children to food: Helping them foster a healthy relationship with food for life.

Read more