Expert Advice

Easy ways to boost your baby’s gut health and why it's so important

And the tell-tale signs your child has tummy troubles.

By Fiona Wright
A child has until the age of two-and-a-half to establish healthy gut bacteria, according to research.
The study from Newcastle University in the UK, also highlights the important role breastfeeding plays as it helps a baby to develop a healthy and diverse gut microbiome.
An infant's gut microbiomes can shape their metabolic and immune-related health as well as their lifelong risk for obesity, asthma, allergies, and autoimmune diseases so it's important their gut health is tip-top.
But how do we know if our children's digestive system needs a little love?
According to the Founder of LittleOak, Elke Pascoe, obvious signs your little one's gut is out of balance include, "bloating, diarrhea, constipation and stomach pain to name a few."
"Other signs that might not be as obviously connected include skin rashes, eczema, mood swings, fussy eating and sleep issues," she says.
An unhealthy gut produces symptoms that are horrible for mum and especially bub, but as Elke explains there are simple ways to help.
How do we know if our children's digestive system needs a little love? (Getty Images)
Move, massage and rest
Lifestyle itself plays a pivotal role in gut health for children, so it's important to look at the whole picture. Getting your bub's body moving, like tummy time, crawling or simple walks or play time outside can really help reduce the stress in children and helping with constipation.
Another beautiful method is a little tummy massage every day. It's important to massage in the right direction (gentle motion on the child's right side, across the ribs, and then down the left side).
Most importantly, quiet time and relaxation will help a lot with constipation and diarrhoea.
Your child's diet can play a huge role in their gut health. (Getty Images)
Nourish your baby with natural foods
Your child's diet can play a huge role in their gut health and nourishing your baby or your child with a variety of natural foods is so important.
Every child deserves the best start in life and for them to flourish it is so crucial to know what to feed them, what to avoid and how to help your child when digestion issues arise.
If your baby is still young, breastfeeding is the best option but once your child starts solids, look at foods that have good levels of probiotics and incorporate a range of fibre rich fruit and vegetables to help balance the microbiome in the gut.
A cut-up apple is the perfect snack for your little one. Due to the high amount of pectin in apple this can help to stimulate the bowel and help to relieve constipation.
Lastly, water is a simple one that seems to always get overlooked, so remember to fill up your child's drink regularly.
LittleOak Infant Formula and Toddler milk is a goat milk alternative to cow's milk and may be good for babies with sensitive tummies. (Supplied)
Understand food intolerances
You'd be surprised at how many babies and children are allergic to certain foods or have varying sensitivities and intolerances. It's really common in children so it's a good idea to sit down with a nutritionist to identify those foods that are altering the microbiome negatively.
If you notice any symptoms of skin reactions such as eczema or rashes, this is a common sign that your child has sensitivities to with dairy or a particular food group.
"The skin irritations my son was experiencing as a baby due to dairy-products was the reason I created LittleOak using the goodness of goat's milk," says Elke. "If your child has any kind of skin irritations, making the switch to goat's milk, which is gentler on the stomach, may put your little one at ease and naturally redress some of their irritations."