Many natural health proponents tout the virtues of probiotics, live bacteria that can improve digestive health. Toddlers need a healthy digestive system too, and you can improve your child's gastrointestinal health by boosting the probiotic content of his diet. Probiotics can either be introduced as a supplement or through foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria cultures that you can ingest to improve the health of your digestive tract and intestines. People of all ages take them as supplements or in foods that they occur in naturally to improve overall health. Probiotics are safe for toddlers. You can give your toddler probiotics to specifically treat gastrointestinal infections and diarrhea, or simply to encourage healthy intestinal operations.
Many parents choose to give their toddlers probiotics via a supplement, especially when trying to treat a specific problem. There are several brands of probiotic supplements on the market, and many of them are made specifically for children. Choose a child-specific probiotic supplement for your toddler to ensure that the dosage is correct and that the packaging, taste and appearance of the supplement will be appealing and child-friendly. Toddler probiotic supplements typically come in chewable or powder form.
If you're just looking to regulate your toddler's digestive health, consider giving him his probiotics through food. The most common and child-friendly source of probiotics is probiotic yogurt. Most young children enjoy yogurt, and it contains other vitamins and nutrients important to your toddler's growth. Look for a yogurt that is specifically labeled as containing probiotics. Not all yogurts are created equally, so be sure to get the right kind if you're looking for a probiotic boost.
Other Probiotic Food Sources
While yogurt may be the easiest way to get probiotics into your toddler's system, there are other probiotic food sources. Kefir is a fermented milk drink that is popular in Northern and Eastern Europe and available in many specialty and health-food stores. Probiotics are also present in buttermilk and some cheeses including aged cheddar, edam and gouda. If your toddler enjoys pickles, you might want to try him on sauerkraut, gherkins and pickled beets, all of which contain probiotics. If you have a particularly adventurous toddler, you can also find probiotics in Korean kimchi, Japanese miso and tempeh, which is a soy-based meat alternative.