Children often can’t clearly express exactly how they’re feeling inside or what’s going on in their bodies. It’s up to parents and caregivers to keep a watchful eye out for the signs and symptoms of an unhealthy gut. Common indications that your child is in digestive stress include:
  • bloating
  • insomnia or wakeful sleeping
  • constipation
  • runny stools
  • irritability
  • chronic stomach cramps/upset
  • nausea/vomiting
  • lethargy
  • inconsolable crying/whining
If you notice one or more of these symptoms, don’t just assume that your child needs a nap or has a cranky disposition. The solution just may be to improve the health of your child’s digestive system through probiotics for kids. Here’s how to start supporting your child’s gut health with a targeted probiotic like LoveBug Probiotics Little Ones.

Avoid Processed Foods

Aside from the unhealthiness of chemical additives and rinses, processed food is bad for your child’s digestive health. Many processed foods with ingredients that are very difficult for a young digestive system to process. These include starches, food coloring, preservatives and other natural or synthetic items that are supposedly added to preserve flavor, enhance color or keep the food from going bad in the package. While an adult’s digestive stomach may be tough enough to handle these items, your child’s system is much more sensitive. Whenever possible, eliminate processed foods from your child’s diet and substitute homemade and natural foods instead.

Encourage Outdoor Play

As biological beings, we are hosts to other biological life, namely the biome that exists in our guts. Cleanliness is, of course, an important aspect of health. However, our bodies can only build up immunities to substances by being exposed to them and then creating antibodies. Those antibodies then live in the digestive system and work to fend of viruses and bacterial infections. If you try to keep your child from getting dirty all the time, their bodies won’t have the chance to build up those antibodies. Paradoxically, the less exposed your child is to dirt, the more chances they have in later life to become chronically ill. Encourage your child to have a little fun rolling on the grass, romping with the family dog, jumping in mud puddles and playing in the sandbox. It’s good for their gut health!

Avoid Hand Sanitizers

Those purse-sized hand sanitizers may make you feel like you can always keep your kid’s hands sterile, but they do more harm than good. Some doctors have even suggested that the chemicals in hand sanitizers make it easier for germs to enter through pores. A better option is to get your child into the habit of washing with natural soap and water when hands get grimy. Even a quick rinse under the playground water fountain is better than exposing your child to hand sanitizer chemicals that jeopardize gut health.

Use Antibiotics Sparingly

Try to avoid jumping on the antibiotic bandwagon every chance you get. Remember that ultimately your child will be healthier in the future if they are allowed to build up immunities in the gut. Certain childhood illnesses definitely call for antibiotics, such as strep throat. Others, like colds and flu, may be better to let run its course. Your child's pediatrician is the best judge of whether your child really needs antibiotics and it’s always worth it to voice your concerns about gut health.

Introduce Fermented Foods

If you start your child out early on probiotic foods, they will get accustomed to the taste and enjoy them. We recommend introducing fermented foods early. Ones to try include Kimchi, kefirbuttermilk, sauerkraut and fermented vegetables. You can add any fermented food into stir-frys, wraps, and sandwiches.

Check Stools

Stools are a great indicator of gut health. Daily variances are normal, but if you notice chronic irregularities, this could indicate digestive stress. You can implement some of the supportive ideas mentioned here and check again to see if there is an improvement in the bathroom.

Supplement with Probiotics

Even when you make your best effort to supply gut healthy food at home, your kids eat a lot of their meals away from home. They may eat a school cafeteria lunch, eat sports snacks between innings, swap snacks with other kids at school, eat out of vending machines or have dinner at a friend’s house.  For this reason, it’s a good idea to supplement your child’s diet with probiotics. Choose a kid-friendly probiotic, like Little Ones for kids 4+ specially formulated to support a child’s digestive health.

Emphasize Exercise

Your child needs exercise to ensure a healthy gut. The digestive system can become sluggish if your child isn’t active enough. Make exercise an important part of everyday. You can emphasize exercise by example, or you can simply make sure you provide adequate ways for your child to entertain themselves outdoors. Try to limit screen time, as this is a passive way to spend hours on end. If you can’t get your child away from the screen or the weather is too bad to play outdoors, get creative with a family dance party, indoor exercise games or heading to a local mall to walk around. Anything that gets your child moving will support their gut health.

Reduce Sugar

Sugar feeds yeast and the bad bacteria in your body. If yeast growth gets out of control, this can jeopardize beneficial bacteria in your child’s gut. Limit how much sugar you use in your child’s food, even if it’s honey or agave. Remember that sugar is addictive, so the less your child has, the less they’ll rely on it as an adult.

Supporting Your Child's Health

These are some great ways to support your child’s gut health. If you and the rest of the family also eat for gut health, it will be easier for your child to understand that this is a way of life that is easy to implement.