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5 key benefits of probiotics and why your kids need them

"You are what you eat" takes on a whole new meaning.

5 key benefits of probiotics and why your kids need them
Motherly for Califia Farms

For all those times your mom told you "you are what you eat," she may have been on to something. In recent years, research has been drawing closer and closer connections to gut health and healthy skin and brain development—particularly those rapidly developing brains found in children and babies.

One of the simplest ways to positively affect gut health is by introducing probiotics into the diet, either through naturally probiotic-rich sources (like yogurt, kefir, or fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi) or with supplements. And lately, science has been pointing to more and more benefits for tiny bellies as well.

Note: It is not recommended to give probiotics to children with compromised immune systems, as they can experience infection, gas and bloating, and other serious side effects. Talk to your child's pediatrician before giving your child probiotics if you have any concerns.

For most children, though, research tends to point to positive effects of increasing their probiotic consumption. Here are five benefits:

1. It can benefit babies even before they're born.

A study published earlier this year found that probiotics can lower the risk of pregnancy complications like preeclampsia and premature birth, particularly when consumed in the first and third trimesters. When the pregnant women were given probiotic-rich milk late in pregnancy, it lowered their preeclampsia risk by 20%. Taking probiotics early in pregnancy reduced preterm delivery risk by between 11 to 27%. Talk about giving your baby a healthy start.

2. Probiotics can provide relief to babies with colic

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a study that found that the probiotic strain Lactobacillus reuteri was more effective than a placebo at treating colic in babies. In fact, the "probiotic group was almost twice as likely as the placebo group to experience treatment success" at the testing time points (day zero, seven, 14, and 21). The babies fed probiotics cried significantly less than their placebo counterparts. (Can we get a 🙌🙌🙌?) Some studies have even found that probiotics occur naturally in breast milk to protect babies from inflammation and infection—further proof that breast milk is basically magic.

3. Yogurt reduces your baby's risk of developing eczema and allergies

A New Zealand research team recently discovered that eating yogurt daily by age one decreased eczema and allergies in babies by up to 70%. While the AAP recommends waiting to introduce cow's milk to a baby's diet until age one, other milk-based products like cheese and yogurt are safe earlier. And the new study found that the more regularly yogurt was served, the greater the effect at preventing allergies. Pass the yogurt, please!

4. Probiotics could help ease diarrhea symptoms

Infants and children who are given probiotic foods (particularly yogurt) while suffering from acute viral gastroenteritis experienced a shorter duration of symptoms by about one day. Additionally, an American Family Physician review found that they can be helpful in treating inflammatory bowel disease. The effects can be similar for adults, too, so feel free to steal a few spoonfuls if your belly is bothering you.

5. Probiotics can help reduce risk of upper respiratory tract infections

A 2016 study found that probiotics outperformed placebos in reducing the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections—as well as the number of days absent from daycare or school. And considering RTIs are one of the most common health issues experienced by children around the world, that can help us all breathe a little easier.

This article is sponsored by Califia Farms. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

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