Having a healthy tummy is so important for your baby’s development and general well-being. Think of their tummy (both the stomach and intestines) as a little engine that gets fuelled by nutrients! Some foods can be harder to break down than others, so your little one’s tummy contains millions of friendly bacteria called ‘gut microbiota’ to help with the job. These friendly bacteria are your baby’s tummy buddies.
Part of keeping your baby’s tummy healthy means looking after these natural, friendly bacteria!
Friendly Tummy* Bacteria:
The growth of friendly bacteria starts before your baby is born. If you have a natural delivery, then your baby will come into contact with plenty of friendly bacteria during their birth journey. Babies delivered by C-section have less exposure, which means it can take them longer to build up the right balance of friendly bacteria in their tummies. After birth, skin contact is also important, as it allows you to pass on friendly bacteria simply by holding your new baby close to your body and face.
Breastfeeding also supports the growth of friendly bacteria. Breastmilk contains oligosaccharides, which are a natural ‘food’ for the friendly bacteria.
Weaning: is it time to move onto solids?
After around six months of milk, your baby’s tummy has developed enough to move on to suitable solid foods. Your baby can now start to have a healthy and balanced weaning diet (tailored to your baby’s stage in the weaning journey). Not only does such a diet provide important nutrients, but it supports the growth of a healthy and diverse group of bacteria in your baby’s tummy. Weaning can be used as a time to build healthy eating habits for life. It is a very important stage in your baby’s life. Weaning should begin at around 6 months and not before 17 weeks of age.
At birth the tummy* is already busy and active, but not fully developed. By the time your baby is approximately 3 years old your baby’s gut microbiota (the family of friendly bacteria living in their tummy*) will have stabilised.
A good balance of friendly bacteria can have some of the following benefits:
- Support digestion
- Help produce some essential nutrients like vitamin B12, K and folate
- Support the development of immune system
- Contributes to general wellbeing
Help support tummy health by giving your baby (aged 6 months or older) probiotic-rich foods and prebiotic-rich foods.
Check out our Top Tips For Tiny Tummies for the best advice on keeping your little one’s tummy ship shape!