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5 Foods That Encourage Baby Gut Health

James Parker
October 20, 2023


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Infant nutrition is a broad industry with dozens of different companies producing thousands of differing products. Parents who wade through this market may find themselves overwhelmed and asking questions about what their new baby needs to have healthy digestion and a healthy life.

According to a study published in 2018, a child has until the age of two and a half to establish a healthy gut ecosystem. Once a child stops breastfeeding, they stop receiving an important bacterium called Bifidobacterium. This strain of bacteria acts as a probiotic and is associated with a number of positive health effects for the child. This is especially important for parents of premature babies or those babies who have suffered gastrointestinal infections early on in life.

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After the mother stops giving her child breast milk, however, the Bifidobacterium is replaced as the child’s gut biosphere quickly evolves and Firmicutes take its place. While Firmicutes are likely the inevitable result of consuming different, non-breastmilk sources of food, it is important to consume foods that build good gut health for the rest of the baby’s life.

Below are five categories of foods that can be beneficial to nurturing a baby’s growing gut. It is important to note that each baby is different and a medical professional should be consulted before making any radical changes to a baby’s diet.

1. Broths

It takes quite a while for a baby to be ready for solid, chewable food. However, the benefits of solid foods like meats are important from an early age. One way to ensure that a baby receives the benefits of meats without worrying about the choking hazard is to feed them broth.

Broth, which is made by simmering animal meat and bones, offers an easily consumed form of meat that delivers many of the same proteins, essential minerals, gelatins, and amino acids like glycine and glutamine. These nutrients can be used by the body to bolster the digestive lining and promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Additionally, vegetable broths can be used to impart the nutritious vitamins of veggies to a growing baby without the tough plant fibers that would make them inedible for young children.

2. Healthy Fats

While trans fats and saturated fats are something to be avoided later in life, babies need a full-fat diet in the early stages of their life. Full fat foods like avocado, cheese, coconut milk, custard, meats, nuts, oily fish, whole milk, and yogurt all contain fatty acids.

These fatty acids help feed the digestive lining, which keeps pathogens at bay while also supporting immune cell production and function. Fats are also packed full of energy, something that is consumed in vast amounts as a young child undergoes the many transformative process that transition them from an infant dependent on their mother’s body for nutrition to a toddler able to function in a state of semi-independence.

3. Fermented Vegetables

Fermented cucumbers

Fermented vegetable products, like sauerkraut, pickled onions, and fermented carrots, can be useful to babies in a number of ways. Fermented foods can introduce and nourish beneficial bacteria in the gut to help establish and maintain positive gut flora.

Fermented vegetables can also be easier to digest since they have been partially broken down by the fermentation process. Additionally, the sour taste of fermented foods can expand a baby’s taste palate and potentially lessen their desire to over consume sweet foods later in life. Fermented foods can be purchased but many can also be made at home with the same ingredients that are usually purchased from the grocery store for adult consumption.

4. Iron-rich foods

One vital nutrient that babies may be missing after birth is iron. Breastmilk doesn’t supply it naturally and while babies do have some iron stores after birth, it is important to supplement this store with iron-rich foods. Iron is used most in the protein hemoglobin found in red blood cells but it also supports a strong immune system and is found in other vital proteins.

Foods like beans, dried or mashed peas, eggs, meat, and tofu can give your baby the iron they need in addition to other vitamins and minerals. By regularly consuming these foods, babies can avoid a potential iron deficiency.

5. Soft Fruits and Vegetables

Mashed fruits or vegetables like bananas or pumpkins can be an invaluable asset to the growing guts of babies. Fruits and vegetables provide a wide variety of vitamins and minerals like vitamins A and C. 

Crucially, fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of fiber. Fiber is a fundamental dietary nutrient that is especially useful for feeding beneficial gut bacteria, helping them to more efficiently colonize the gut.

While the type of food a baby is fed in their early years is important, in the beginning many infants will have a more binary choice: breastmilk or formula. During this earliest stage of life, before they are able to process even the softest of foods, it is important to choose a quality source of early nutrition.

There are many reasons that mothers may choose to use breast milk or formula. Breast milk is cheaper, it is considered by some parents to be more natural, and proponents may argue that it can also create a stronger bond by keeping the mother close to her child longer. By contrast, formula is easier to prepare and keep ready, it can be made by any parent or family member, and it can be useful if the mother either has to work, cannot produce milk, can’t pump, or just doesn’t want to.

While there is a robust debate about formula or natural milk, sometimes the decision is made for the mother. In the event of a premature birth, which occurs roughly 10% of the time, the mother cannot breastfeed because the child must be under constant medical care. During this stressful time, the baby may sometimes need to have a feeding tube inserted directly into the stomach in order to ensure proper nutrition. 

This combination of premature birth and direct feeding can lead to a severe health risk when combined with a third factor: synthetic formula. According to the Cleveland Clinic, infants with these conditions are ripe for a disease known as Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC). 90% infants who become infected with NEC are premature and are fed through a feeding tube in the stomach.

Be aware of NEC

NEC is a gastrointestinal infection that is particularly dangerous for premature infants. The disease inflames the infant’s intestinal tissue, causing it to die. This tissue death in young infants can create holes in the intestines which allow bacteria to escape into the body, causing septic infection and potentially death. 

A rising correlation has been found between infants who are fed synthetic cow’s milk formula and infants who develop NEC. If the premature infant was fed this formula in the NICU, then the parents may not find out until it’s too late. While part of the answer to this problem may be to have more parents breastfeed, the larger issue is holding manufacturers accountable for not warning consumers about this serious health risk.

If you or a loved one have had a premature child who suffered injury or death from NEC, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your suffering. Parents across the nation who have been hurt by the negligence of these companies are filing lawsuits against synthetic formula manufacturers like Enfamil, Similac, and others for not warning consumers of the potential risks of their products. 

If you file suit, you could receive a financial award for past and future damages or expenses. This category of lawsuits is typically handled by attorneys who work on contingency. That means that you never pay the attorney, they only receive a set percentage of the final award. Contingency guarantees that if you don’t win, you don’t pay. 

Don’t wait. Contact Select Justice today for a free consultation and begin your journey to justice.

Free Case Evaluation

If your child was diagnosed with NEC, Select Justice can help you fight for your rights and compensation.


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