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‘I’m a Gut Health Expert, and These Are My Top 4 Tips for Finding the Best Probiotic for Your Kid’

When you're a parent, you spend a whole lot of time thinking about what your kids eat (or don’t, in the case of picky eaters). After all, it's important for children to get the nutrients and vitamins they need to grow up healthy. But while you're focusing on first foods and clever ways to hide broccoli in mac 'n cheese, there’s one thing you might not be thinking about: probiotics.

No, the buzzy bacteria isn't just for adults. It can help kids, too, by aiding their digestion, supporting gut health, and promoting overall well-being during the years when their microbiome is developing—and science backs it up.

"Research has demonstrated that the gut microbiome is linked to systems beyond the gut, such as the respiratory, immune, and nervous systems," says immunologist Azza Gadir, PhD, scientific advisor for Seed. "The first several years of your child’s life is an important window for the growth and development of their microbiome, which, due to its far-reaching influence, is an important area to nurture with the same consideration as other aspects of our children’s health."

And, she adds, probiotics and prebiotics—alongside foundational factors like diet, exercise, environment, sleep, and hygiene—can provide support for a healthy microbial ecosystem. As the field of probiotics has advanced alongside the understanding of the critical role that the microbiome plays in a child’s developing immune and systemic health, we can now look to probiotics for benefits beyond digestion, especially the specific strains studied to support gut-immune function, gut barrier integrity, and even respiratory and skin health, Gadir says.

Despite the purported benefits, picking the right probiotic for your child isn’t quite as easy as heading to the grocery store and plucking the first bottle off the shelf labeled "probiotics for kids" (if only).

“In an ever-expanding sea of misinformation and hyperbolic marketing claims for all things ‘probiotic,’ finding truthful information and making good choices can feel paralyzing—especially for parents,” Gadir says. “Between flavored powders and brightly colored gummies, choosing a pediatric probiotic is a challenge."

But here’s the good news: Effective, highly studied probiotics for kids are out there (like Seed's PDS-08™ Pediatric Daily Synbiotic, which was studied in a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial in a pediatric cohort shown to support gastrointestinal function, FYI). But don't take our word for it, keep reading for Gadir's advice on how to choose wisely.

Scroll down for Gadir's top 4 questions to ask yourself when looking into probiotics for kids.

1. What do you need the probiotic to do?

The first thing you have to think about is what your goal is for adding a probiotic to your child's daily routine—because not all probiotics have the same effects. “Certain strains have been studied in children to impact antibiotic-associated diarrhea, whereas others have been studied to support bowel frequency and ease of pooping,” Gadir says, while still others support gut-barrier integrity, or respiratory and skin health.

If you've got a kiddo who can use a little help in the potty department (or you just want to make sure they don't end up in that boat), PDS-08™ can help on both fronts. It was shown to support regular, healthy bowel movements in children with fewer than five bowel movements per week, and a study on non-constipated children showed it maintained regularity without making them go too often. Winning all around.

2. Is this probiotic for kids effective?

Now that you know what type of probiotic you're looking for, how do you sort through all the options? According to Gadir, the most important thing is to look for probiotics for kids with studies that back up the benefit you're after. "It's necessary to look for strains that have been clinically studied to demonstrate a health benefit, and that they are included in their clinically relevant doses (another loophole many products use)," Gadir says.

How does Seed stack up? Gadir has the receipts: "The probiotic strains in PDS-08™ have been studied in 18 clinical trials specifically conducted in various pediatric cohorts and the dosages in our product reflect the exact dose used in their respective clinical trials. This means that these strains have demonstrated a health benefit at an 'effective dosage', which is the same dose included in our PDS-08™ formulation."

3. Does the brand conduct safety testing?

The next point you'll want to consider: Has the probiotic been studied for efficacy and safety? (Are you sensing the theme that is all comes back to rigorous testing?). Some probiotic companies not only test the strains to make sure they’re effective in children, but they also conduct tests to ensure potency and purity. Doing so ensures that there are no contaminants or allergens that could harm your child included in the formula.

For example, says Gadir, Seed tests PDS-08™ for “mycotoxins, 420 different pesticides (including glyphosate), and over 20 of the most common allergens as defined by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).”

4. Has the product been designed to be stable and viable?

Finally, you'll want to make sure that the probiotic you're investing in will actually make it into your child's digestive system—which means taking two last points into account.

First, that the product has undergone testing to ensure the good-for-you, live bacteria stays alive during manufacturing, shelf-life, and digestion. “In other words,” Gadir says, “will the product survive the potential heat and humidity it may encounter during shipping and storage and the trip through your child’s GI tract?” On that front, Seed has 50 quality assurances and quality control checkpoints in place for this very reason.

Second, for the probiotic to make it into your child's colon (where the majority of the gut microbiome resides), they need to actually consume it. That's why why PDS-08™ was formulated with real-life scenarios (and real-life kiddos!) in mind. It's sugar free with a natural sweetness from fiber-based prebiotics, and the single-serving packets make it easy to take on the go and mix into a drink, meal, or snack. Which brings us right back to thinking about what our kids are going to eat (but this time with a gut-healthy boost).

Thinking of adding a daily probiotic to your child's routine? Well+Good readers can get 15 percent off their first month's Seed subscription with code WELLANDGOOD15.

Top photo: Seed/W+G Creative

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