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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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These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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