If your baby did not have a vaginal birth, is not nursing, or if you had antibiotics during birth, you can offer him probiotic booster under the guidance of your health care provider. If you are nursing, you can take a probiotic booster and eat fermented foods to increase you and your baby’s immunity.
It may be challenging to find fermented foods for your baby before he is one year old. Many of these foods are salty—such as miso, tamari, umeboshi plums, and fermented pickles—or are made with dairy products, such as yogurt and kefir. I have developed some recipes for fermented foods for babies and toddlers that are dairy-free and low in sodium.
If your child is experiencing digestive issues, fermented foods can help him get back on track with a stronger community of intestinal flora. If your child has to take antibiotics or stay in the hospital, he can benefit from eating naturally fermented foods and taking probiotic booster. These are also helpful for traveling or while at, when he may be exposed to a variety of new pathogens.
Your baby can start eating some fermented foods between six and eight months. At six months, you can soak his grains for porridge to achieve a slight fermentation. He can try a small amount of sweet potato mash, and you can put probiotic booster in his grain or vegetable purees.
At around seven months, he can enjoy pureed soups or vegetable broths with a very small amount of miso or tamari mixed in, and pickles or pickle juice can be added to a meal, as a digestive aid. These foods have salt, but the sodium is not as concentrated as when using straight salt. However, take care to use very little salt at this age.
Water kefir, yogurt, or kefir can be introduced at around nine months. Offer tempeh sandwiches, stews, or casseroles at around one year old, and you can continue to integrate fermented foods into his diet during cooking and with condiments, such as pickles, tamari, miso, and plum vinegar.
As your child grows and changes his diet, his gut flora also changes. By the age of two or three years old, most children have a fairly stable intestinal balance. At that time, your child’s immune system has also matured considerably. The first two to three years are an opportunity to help him develop a strong colony of microbes to help build his immunity.
The chart below gives an overview of which fermented or probiotic foods to start feeding baby and when.
The chart also includes how frequently to feed these foods.