The Best Kids Probiotics to Buy in 2021

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Reviewed by Dr. Alex Kolb, Pharm.D, R.Ph.Written by Neve Spicer Updated on August 10th, 2021

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Probiotics have long been known by the health-conscious to offer potential relief from a variety of chronic health conditions, and not just for adults. Children can also benefit from these healthy live cultures, and there’s an abundance of probiotic supplements and gummies with just them in mind.

If you’re unsure what probiotics do, whether your child needs them, or how to choose the best probiotics for them, check out our buyer’s guide for a quick FAQ and also for a rundown of the best potential choices.

What is a probiotic?

Though probiotic supplements are often simply termed, “probiotics”, a probiotic is technically any one of a variety of live micro-organisms which have a positive effect on overall health, particularly with the gut. A quality probiotic supplement combines multiple probiotic strains into one powder, pill, or gummy.

They’re designed to improve and restore existing gut flora, creating an environment that aids digestion. This is said to improve the absorption of water and nutrients present in food while also preventing constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, and reflux.

Probiotics are naturally present in some fermented foods, like yogurt, and also available in capsule, gummy, and powder supplements.

What makes a probiotic suitable for kids?

The live micro-organisms used in probiotics don’t vary depending on the intended age group, but, rather, it’s the size of the dosage that changes. When treating a chronic health condition in your child, it’s important to consult with your pediatrician before beginning a new over-the-counter treatment, including probiotics.

And be careful while choosing the delivery method your child prefers. Some kids are more comfortable swallowing capsules than others, who may prefer the powdered or ‘gummy’ options.

Editor’s Note: Probiotics containing multiple-flora culture strains are preferable, as they better replicate the diversity found in the human gut.

How do I know if my kids need probiotics?

Probiotics aren’t always necessary for some adults and children, but if your child has chronic digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea, recurring head colds, or a skin condition such as eczema, a probiotic supplement could certainly help.

Some infants and children are more vulnerable to an imbalance of microflora than others. Babies born via cesarean section miss out on the natural transfer of microflora they would normally receive as they pass through the birth canal, while those fed with formula don’t receive the microflora naturally present in breast milk. Babies and children may also be prone to imbalance if mom had low blood sugar, eczema, or problems with weight during her pregnancy.

Is it smart to give my kids probiotics if they don’t have digestive issues?

Although probiotics are commonly associated with digestive issues, they can also play an important role in resolving other health conditions. If your child has a chronic cold or is suffering from eczema, a probiotic may have a positive impact. It’s important to consult with your pediatrician before treating any condition exclusively with a probiotic, and also to discuss whether a supplement is necessary if your child has no apparent health problems.

Can I share my probiotics with my kids?

As mentioned above, while there’s no difference in the types of microflora being used in probiotic supplements based on the intended age group, dosages can vary greatly. A dosage with a healthy, comfortable impact on an adult’s body may be too high for a youngster, so, if your probiotic’s dose is a single pill, it would be unwise to share it with your child.

One caveat here is that many probiotic supplements for adults frequently have a dosage of more than one pill at a time, meaning that the dosage can reasonably be broken down into a size more appropriate for children. Always consult with your pediatrician before dosing your child with a probiotic meant for adults.

Take time to read the label of your supplement thoroughly. It should inform you about both dosage and whether or not it’s appropriate for kids. Powdered supplements are often a great pick for parents wanting to share a probiotic, as doses are often clearly indicated for both adults and children.

Can kids with food allergies use probiotics?

While probiotics are designed to promote good health, they can, sometimes, become a double-edged sword for children suffering from allergies. This is because dairy, soy, eggs, and gluten, all of which are common allergens that can cause severe or fatal reactions in those seriously allergic, may be present in some supplements.

But this needn’t mean that probiotics are off the table for kids or adults with allergies as there are, thankfully, supplements available that eschew these allergens. Just be sure to read any allergen warnings on the label to avoid any unwanted triggers.

What should I avoid when choosing probiotics for my kids?

Other than allergens for those most vulnerable, another important thing to avoid with child’s probiotics are supplements that don’t use multiple strains of microflora. This doesn’t necessarily make them harmful, but less effective, and a poorer investment in their health than those using a wider variety of strains.

Is there any chance probiotics will have a negative effect on my child?

Although probiotics are widely regarded as a natural means for improving health, it’s true that the potential for less-pleasant side effects exists. Only a minority experience them, and they usually balance out over a few days as the body adjusts to the presence of new microflora. Side effects can include gas, bloating, headaches, and histamine reactions. If these appear without respite, discontinue with the probiotic, especially if an allergy is suspected.

Our picks of the best kids probiotics

Editors choice

Our opinion

Giving medicine or supplements to younger kids is no small task, especially if they have an unpleasant taste, or come in the form of a hefty pill that must be swallowed. Supplements available in drop form, like Probonix (check price on Amazon), are far easier to administer — being placed either over or underneath the tongue. Drops can also be ‘snuck’ into a beverage without being noticed.

There is no ‘yucky’ medicine taste here, as Probonix has a pleasantly sweet grape flavor, ideal for youngsters. Unlike some other liquid-probiotic supplements, Probonix requires no refrigeration, so storing the drops is less stressful. This supplement also uses a diverse range of eight microflora strains; including well-known L. acidophilus and B. bifidum.

At a glance
  • Probonix is administered in the form of drops, so there’s no big pills for kids to swallow and it could easily be placed in a cold drink
  • It has a pleasant grape taste, so kids won’t feel negatively about taking it

Best budget buy

Our opinion

If your children struggle with pill swallowing, you may wonder how to help them get over their fears without overwhelming or putting them in danger. The micro-pearl delivery system as seen in tiny Hyperbiotics (check price on Amazon) pills makes them a great option when preparing kids for larger vitamins and medications; they’re tiny and digest easily, helping assuage concerns about taking medication.

The time-release formula is designed to bypass the stomach while activating within the intestinal tract, where probiotics are generally most effective. Furthermore, these little pills come with a small price tag, so if you’d like to discover if probiotics can play a positive role in your child’s health, these are a budget-friendly pick.

 

What we love
  • The pills are extremely small, so they’re great practice for swallowing medication and can help take some of the fear out of it for younger kids
  • The micropearl delivery system helps to preserve the probiotic’s efficacy by bypassing the stomach and activating in the intestine
Watch for
  • Because they’re a pill, they’re never safe for kids under three, and some younger kids may still struggle a bit with taking them (don’t worry, though they’re intended for swallowing, but they can still be chewed)

Best probiotics supplement

Our opinion

When ingredients like gluten and soy can be problem allergens for your child, you’ll end up doing loads of legwork to ensure the products you offer them are safe. This can make finding supplements and vitamins much more difficult, so picks like these tasty vanilla melt cubes from up4 Kids (check price on Amazon) are a great find. They’re free of gluten, soy, and preservatives, and even certified kosher.

There’s also no pill-swallowing struggle here, as these little cubes melt in your child’s mouth, leaving no unpleasant taste. They contain a blend of two types of microflora and a healthy vitamin D boost, great for your little one’s bone health.

What we love
  • There’s no sugar, gluten, soy, or preservatives in this shelf-stable probiotic
  • Swallowing a pill isn’t necessary here, as these cubes melt in your child’s mouth with a pleasant vanilla taste
Watch for
  • There are only two strains of microflora here, so it’s a less diverse probiotic than some competitors; also, the melting delivery method isn’t safe for kids under three, as it can pose a choking hazard

Best chewable probiotic

Our opinion

Culturelle (check price on Amazon) has long been a trusted brand in providing probiotics in support of adult digestive health, so it’s unsurprising that their chewable daily probiotic for kids is a topmost recommended brand by pediatricians. It’s great for kids over three, offering a boost of the active ingredient, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG, designed to reduce the occurrence of loose stools and upset stomachs.

The round, soft supplement has a sweet berry tang that kids will love, and contains no unwanted ingredients and allergens such as yeast, soy, lactose/dairy, gluten, preservatives, and artificial colors. While this supplement contains only one strain of microflora, LGG is the most clinically studied, and approved, in the treatment of children’s digestive and immune issues, so it’s a probiotic you can trust.

What we love
  • Culturelle is a trusted brand, and this pick comes highly recommended by pediatricians
  • No pill-swallowing is required, and this chewable has a pleasant berry taste your kids will enjoy
Watch for
  • There’s only one probiotic strain present in this supplement; however, it’s the most clinically-researched strain for treating children

Best all-natural

Our opinion

If your child suffers from long-term regularity issues and stomach pains, the search for a lasting solution is constant. These berry-flavored NordicFlora gummies from Nordic Naturals (check price on Amazon), may just provide the relief your little one needs. These vegetarian, dairy-free, gelatin-free, and non-GMO chewables contain 1.5 billion live cultures, as well as prebiotic dietary fiber, that can have a significant impact on your child’s digestion.

These gummies are suitable for kids over two, with no refrigeration necessary to preserve this supplement. They’re also friendlier on the wallet, offering 60 doses at the same price others charge for 30!

What we love
  • They’re all natural, vegetarian, and dairy-free
  • They’re economically sized and priced
Watch for
  • The only microflora strain in this supplement is bacillus coagulans, so there’s no probiotic blend here, which is sometimes more effective

Best for kids with food allergies

Our opinion

We all know how tough life can be when your kiddo has food allergies. It often leads to hyper-vigilance and anxiety when choosing new products, so finding a reliable brand other parents with allergy kids swear by can come as an enormous relief! FloraTummys (check price on eBay) is a pick that’s free from wheat, gluten, fish, shellfish, eggs, peanuts, nuts, soybeans, dairy, celery, mustard, sesame seeds, and lupine — in other words, all the major allergen groups are excluded here, making it a top pick for families wrestling with food-allergy issues.

The gentle, taste-free powdered formula is safe for children one year and over, and individual packets can easily be added (unnoticed!) to breast milk, formula, other beverages, and food.

What we love
  • It’s an ideal choice if food allergies are a consideration for your family, as it carefully avoids all the most common allergens
  • It comes in a taste-free powder and is safe for children at one year, so it’s usable earlier than many kids’ probiotics and administering it is easy
Watch for
  • The only microflora strain in this supplement is bacillus coagulans, so there’s no probiotic blend here, which is sometimes more effective

Best for infants

Our opinion

While there are loads of quality probiotics on the market for kids, most aim for a higher age range, with few designed for the under threes. Culturelle’s Baby Calm + Comfort (check price on Walmart) offers a probiotic appropriate for infants, and the inclusion of soothing natural chamomile means these easy-dosing drops provide both relief from baby’s occasional digestive upset and a natural calmness, encouraging relaxation and healthy sleep.

The drops are free of dairy, sugar, and gluten, and can be applied directly into a baby’s mouth or dropped into their bottle of breast milk or formula. They offer relief to babies struggling with gas, indigestion, and sleeplessness, bringing more restful nights to little ones and parents alike.

What we love
  • The dosage here is safe for newborns, and the easy-to-administer drops are free of dairy, soy, and gluten
  • These drops contain chamomile extract, which promotes feelings of calm and restful sleep
Watch for
  • These probiotics are for babies, so they won’t be as effective for kids over a year old because of their low dose

Editor’s Note: If your child is prescribed an antibiotic, then, if also taking a daily probiotic, it’s important that both are not taken at the same time as they can counteract each other. For example, if an antibiotic is taken in the morning and in the evening, the probiotic should be taken in the afternoon. Always check with your physician.

And the winner is…

A diverse range of microflora strains helps to create the most effective probiotics, and, with eight strains, Probonix Kids (check price on Amazon) offers one of the most diverse products on our list. It’s easily administered, thanks to a drop-dosing formula that keeps the dropper inside the cap for convenience and sanitation. One small bottle lasts for a month, and refrigeration is unnecessary to preserve the product. There are also no objectionable flavors here, as the tangy grape flavor of the drops is kid-approved, so can easily be added to juice or yogurt without being noticed.

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Reviewed by Dr. Alex Kolb, Pharm.D, R.Ph.Written by Neve Spicer Updated on August 10th, 2021
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