• Vedrana

When can children first start to drink homemade kefir?


A few of my friends and colleagues have children who were born with allergies and poor immune systems. Although I don't have children of my own, I asked myself whether homemade kefir could be beneficial for babies and children as it is for adults. And I started researching and found many interesting materials.

As I am not a doctor or nutritionist, this post is not to be taken as health advice but solely as information and a guide which you can discuss with your family doctor or specialist.

I hope that this article will provide some beneficial information for you and especially for your young ones.


Benefits for all

In my previous article I emphasized the benefits of homemade kefir – it is high in nutrients, a potent source of probiotics, a rich source of calcium, protein and B vitamins which all boost the immune system. Also, kefir contains the probiotic Lactobacillus kefiri and the carbohydrate kefiran, both of which protect against harmful bacteria.

People with over-sensitive immune systems are often more prone to allergies that are caused by inflammatory responses against certain foods or substances. Maybe this can be avoided by improving the immune system from the start - from infancy.


Kefir health benefits for kids are as numerous as they are for adults.

Also, kefir plays an essential role in protecting and improving one’s immune system and promoting children’s health and proper brain function.

Kefir can help children grow stronger and ward off the harmful bacteria and viruses they can be exposed to at kindergarten, school or the outdoors.

Because kefir has a high amount of beneficial probiotic cultures, it can help children have fewer bouts of flu, colds and stomach infections and reduce the need for antibiotics and other medicines, all of which could cause many negative side effects.

If antibiotics are prescribed to children, kefir will protect their intestinal flora and help them fend off illnesses better. In this way, kefir probiotics are an important part of nutrition during childhood and adolescence, contributing to developing a strong and healthy immune system.

Kefir is rich in vitamins B1, B12, D and K, which are all important for healthy physical growth and brain development. Besides, kefir is a refreshing and tasty drink which you can flavour with fresh fruits, honey and muesli, and make an irresistible beverage that your child will enjoy!

A child’s nervous system, proper brain function and mental performance depend highly on daily vitamin B intake, which can be obtained in the needed quantities through kefir drinks. Since Vitamin B12 is generally stored in small quantities in our body, it needs to be constantly replaced through foods that contain it and kefir is one of the healthiest and most tasty among these. Vitamin B12 is essential for a child’s normal brain activity and it helps produce acetylcholine which is necessary for memory and learning. When Vitamin B12 is consumed through kefir it also helps in the production of red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout the body, and prevent children from being weak, tired or undernourished. Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, helps in the development of acetylcholine and it improves a child’s memory, while Vitamin B1 deficiency can show up as decreased appetite, fatigue and weakness. Vitamin B1 nourishes the nervous system, helps release energy from carbohydrates and promotes growth and good muscle tone.


Kefir provides an excellent supply of thiamine, especially for those children who perhaps eat too many sweets, since excessive sugar consumption could deplete Vitamin B1 storage in the body. Vitamin D is necessary for bone growth and development in children, as it helps to absorb calcium. A child suffering from a Vitamin D deficiency could be at a higher risk for stunted growth, weak bones and fractures.

The presence of Vitamin K in children’s blood is important to ensure proper blood clotting. Vitamin K helps produce blood-clotting proteins that control both coagulation and anticoagulation. A lack of Vitamin K can make small cuts bleed for a long time and cause small injuries to turn into large bruises.


Kefir contains many beneficial bacteria and yeasts that provide lactase, which is a digestive enzyme that breaks down lactose during the fermentation process and predigests milk. This means that children who are lactose intolerant can safely drink kefir even on an empty stomach.


Before and after birth

What a mother eats very much affects breast milk quality. One thing that repeatedly comes up in studies is the importance of a vibrant digestive microbiome in the breastfeeding mother. Not only is a healthy gut a common theme in breastfeeding nutrition, but it is also connected to all aspects of health and immunity, and this really comes into play as soon as the baby is born.


Before a baby is born, its gut microbiome is fairly simple. Studies on fetal microbiome development before birth have found the presence of healthy bacteria in amniotic fluid, but not specifically colonized in the gut. It is during and right after delivery that a baby’s gut becomes populated with bacteria strains that the baby ingests while passing through the birth canal, from the mother’s vaginal strains, via the skin when placed skin to skin, and through breastfeeding. Breast milk strengthens the colonization and maturation of the bacteria that is already present in the gut and brings its own special variety of bacteria into play. Breastfeeding mothers in their quest to produce milk can make sure that their own gut is flourishing during pregnancy and afterwards, and one of the ways to get probiotics from food is through homemade kefir.

A way to ensure that babies get enough of the good bacteria to protect their organisms is to ingest kefir daily. Just one tablespoon of kefir contains up to 50 billion probiotic organisms.


Introducing probiotic-rich fermented foods during pregnancy can also provide lifelong benefits. Namely, such foods:

  • Create a healthy internal ecosystem - fermented foods set up the foundation for a healthy and strong gut.

  • Provide more nutrients - when fermented, nutrients in food increase a hundredfold. The microflora that are abundant in unpasteurized, fermented foods act like enzymes to properly process the food and release all the nutrients to be absorbed. They also help to retain those nutrients so that your blood delivers the best possible nutrition to each growing cell in your baby's developing brain and body.

  • Improve digestion - microflora in fermented foods increase the bioavailability of each meal by improving digestion.

  • Reduce damage from sugar - microflora enjoy the sugars in food and protect you from the damage often caused by sugar.

  • Control cravings - fermented foods help control cravings for carbohydrates and provide the sour taste that so many pregnant women intuitively crave.

  • Help the body detoxify - microflora will attack toxins, combat parasites, and restore the acid/alkaline balance of your intestines.

  • Help babies digest their mother's milk - mother's milk is nature's most perfect food for babies, but a healthy internal ecosystem needs to first be established so that a baby can digest the milk.

How to start? Take baby steps!

Eating probiotic rich foods is one of the best things you can do to impact your child’s health. While breast milk contains healthy fat and bacteria, the food most commonly fed babies lacks both! Fermented foods are like “food as medicine” as they aid digestion, support immunity, and actually increase the nutritional content of foods. They are recommended for babies born via C-section, who have been given antibiotics, those with gas, constipation or other stomach troubles.


While offering a variety of foods to children helps broaden their palates, "sour" is one of the flavours that is seldom given to babies. Thus, traditionally fermented foods are a wonderful way to introduce sour flavours. Many children consume highly processed foods that are overwhelmingly sweet and salty. Offering fermented foods to babies from an early age once they have started with solids can actually lessen their desire to over consume sweet foods.

We are made up of more bacteria cells than human cells and the "good guys" proliferate when we consume fermented foods. While probiotic supplements can be beneficial, they only offer a few different strains of bacteria. Fermented foods offer a much more diverse range of good bacteria and increase a wider variety of the "good guys" in your gut.

Fermented foods should be introduced gradually, starting with very small amounts. Children might make a “sour” face at first but will maybe then surprise you by reaching for more right away. Remember that this is just a new flavour for them to adjust to. It may take several tries for them to acquire the taste. If they initially reject the flavour, try offering it again in about a week or so.

Fermented foods should be introduced gradually, starting with very small amounts. Children might make a “sour” face at first but will maybe then surprise you by reaching for more right away. Remember that this is just a new flavour for them to adjust to. It may take several tries for them to acquire the taste. If they initially reject the flavour, try offering it again in about a week or so.


One of the most important steps you can take that will determine the health and long-term wellness of your baby is to ensure the proper development and maintenance of your baby’s internal ecosystem. A healthy internal ecosystem is when your baby's intestines have a proper balance of beneficial microflora (good bacteria and beneficial yeast). Microflora play an important role in conquering pathogenic viruses, bacteria and yeast. This is how Mother Nature "vaccinates" your child and helps build its immunity.

In addition to keeping pathogens under control, microflora also play a vital role in ensuring that your baby digests mother’s milk. This way the baby will start to thrive on this new food and begin to gain weight quickly. Because a baby’s brain is still very much under development, the mother’s nutrient-rich milk will help nourish the child’s brain and influence its level of intelligence for the rest of the baby’s life. Also, the calcium and phosphorus in a mother's breast milk will help build strong healthy bones and teeth.

The missing link in the health of many babies born today is establishing the presence of a healthy internal ecosystem where good microflora outnumbers the bad.

In order to have a healthy internal ecosystem, a baby depends on the mother to inoculate it with healthy microflora at birth. While this may seem easy, often poor diet and lifestyle habits rob women of the healthy microflora so critical for a baby's internal ecosystem.


Babies who lack an abundance of beneficial bacteria start life with painful gastrointestinal pain such as gas, colic and reflux. They can also experience infant constipation. They do not develop the necessary immunity and do not have the ability to cleanse out toxins inherited from their parents and grandparents.


As 80% of the immune system is located in the gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), babies who do not quickly develop a healthy internal ecosystem in their gut have weakened immunity. They are also more vulnerable to allergies and other more serious problems. There are cultures around the world have long known about the benefits of fermented foods and drinks to a baby’s nutrition. For example, in Russia, kefir is included in the diet of children from six months of age.


True story

While browsing the web to find quality and relevant information, I came across Donna Schwenk's story. Here is a summary of her incredible story, but don’t hesitate to read the entire article or watch the video attached below:

"Having babies is a big event. For me it was life threatening and life changing. My third pregnancy was a scary event – things quickly went from bad to worse and they delivered my baby 7.5 weeks early to save my life and hers. Never did I expect something so painful and scary to teach me the things I know today. But I had to learn, somehow, some way, that I was more than the sickness that consumed me and my family. The pain was temporary, wellness was my birthright, and by golly I was gonna find my way to wellness, no matter what. At the age of 41, I finally discovered who I was. It started with a better understanding of the birth process. I never understood these principles and I had very different experiences with my children because of it. My first two children didn’t receive cultured foods until they were in their teens. They were what I thought of as “typical kids.” Ear infections and sickness were the norm and to be expected. But when my third child was born almost 7.5 weeks early and with an immune system that was struggling, I knew I had to do something to help her. I found kefir and began giving her a tablespoon in every bottle and her life transformed. Kefir changed everything. She thrived and never had one ear infection, nor did she ever go to the doctor because of sickness – not once – and she is now seventeen. When she was born, the doctors told me she had a weak immune system and would probably always struggle with sickness, but I believe the cultured foods changed all that."


Hope this information is beneficial for you and your whole family!

Enjoy your homemade kefir daily <3













Sources:

Should Babies and Children Have Cultured Foods?

Kefir Health Benefits for Kids

Why probiotics are important for breastfeeding mamas + all about kefir!

Immune Boosting Super Food For Kids: Kefir

Why your baby should be eating fermented foods

How, Why, and When to Introduce Babies to Probiotics

Health benefits of kefir

What Every Woman Needs to Read If She Ever Wants to Have a Baby

Book - "From kefir with love"; Whitney Wilson

35 views0 comments