The Development of the Infant Gut
Did you know that one of the biggest impacts on your baby’s sleep can be what is going on in their guts?
Time and time again, in my 1-1 coaching practice, I support parents with their baby’s sleep and the route cause of issues often lies in the development of the gut. Having experienced these issues with my own boys, I am so keen to support more parents to bring awareness to the issues that the infant gut can bring and how we can support our little ones if and when troubles arise.
I had a brilliant chat with Rebecca Traylen, Associate Nutritionist and Head of Nutrition at ProBio7, who shared some brilliant information about this topic – listen to the full interview here – and I wanted to share some of the key points with you here:
The Development of the Infant Gut
- The 1000 day period from conception to when an infant is 2 is a period when their gut is forming and it can really seed and develop what happens in later life. Focusing on the gut from the start of life for yourself and your infant is so important.
- Research shows us that probiotics are safe and well-tolerated in infants and are worth trying, if you’re interested in them.
- During pregnancy, research is still mixed, but a paper recently shows taking a fish oil supplement and a probiotic during pregnancy could reduce the risk of your infant suffering an allergy. This is exciting research but it is still very new and varied. Your gut microbiome is important during pregnancy so staying hydrated and eating a well-balance, fibre-rich diet, getting plenty of fresh air and exercise are so important to keep your own gut healthy, as well as the development of your baby’s.
- Be kind to your body during pregnancy – if you’re craving a certain food, allow yourself to eat it!
- If you’re interested in a probiotic in pregnancy and have a family history of food allergies, asthma or eczema you may want to consider a probiotic but always speak to your GP first.
- Trying to reduce stress in pregnancy is a really good way to support a healthy gut. Although not always easy, allowing yourself as much rest and relaxation as possible during this time can go a long way to supporting Mummy’s and baby’s developing gut.
- Stress can change the species of bacteria present in our microbiome and it’s something really worth considering, whether pregnant or parenting.
- Antibiotics kill everything in your gut so it is recommended to take a probiotic during a course of antibiotics, but always discuss with your GP before starting some.
- There is some evidence that an infant born through vaginal delivery picks up bacteria which helps their gut develop. If a baby is born via c-section their first environment is a hospital environment, which can mean they have a delayed colonisation of bacteria in their gut. Skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding can be so helpful after a c-section birth, to help them develop healthy bacteria, as well as considering probiotics for the infant, if appropriate.
- The main thing in breastmilk that is really important in supporting the baby’s gut is the human milk oligosaccharides – this is the sugar in breastmilk – and it is really amazing stuff! These sugars don’t feed the infant, they fe3ed a bacterium present in the infant’s gut that helps the bacteria to grow, which are then broken down by secondary compounds that, then, feed the infant. This is a very clever system that our body has developed – not only feeding the baby but feeding the baby’s insides.
- Formula-feeding after birth is always an option and a probiotic is worth considering because it doesn’t have the same qualities as breastmilk for the baby’s stomach.
- If you’re eating a diet really high in fat and sugar, that can have a negative impact on your gut microbiome; being aware of a healthy diet is really important after birth and finding balance in moderation.
- There has been evidence from poo samples taken from infants, that the bacteria present in the gut can affect whether baby has colic or not. Colic can cause a lot of inflammation and gas, which can be linked to this, and probiotics can really help infants with colic and could be considered as helpful.
- ProBio7 probiotics are good for breastfed and bottle-fed babies, click here for more information for both adults and children.