• Martha Lewis

What To Do If Your Baby Has To Take Antibiotics

Sometimes our little ones get sick enough and have to take antibiotics. If you're like me, you're bummed and a little worried about the side effects of giving your child antibiotics.

Antibiotics are an amazing invention of modern medicine. But they are over-prescribed and used too often for viral infections. So I tend to be very skeptical when my son's pediatrician prescribes antibiotics. But sometimes they are necessary when your baby is sick and not getting any better with natural medicine. I just gave my 20-month old son antibiotics for the first time. And I'm thankful that something is available to make him better when nothing else is working.

So why did I give Parker antibiotics this time? Well, he had been sick for 10 days with what I thought was a cold. He had a cough that wasn't too bad but was getting worse. He would get a low fever for a couple of nights in a row and then he would seem better and not get a fever. But after 10 days when he got a fever again and was really miserable, it was time to do something. All the cough syrup, tiny cold tablets, and eucalyptus oil I was giving him wasn't helping. His doctor confirmed that he had a sinus and ear infection. Poor guy! 

I did some research and found out that viral infections usually run their course in a week or two. So the fact that he was still sick and not getting better meant that he most likely had a bacterial infection. And that's the appropriate time to give antibiotics. So we got the bubble gum flavored amoxicillin to give Parker for the next 10 days. And in a few days he was feeling much better! He went from being fussy and clingy to laughing, playing and being his goofy self again.

As you may already know, antibiotics destroy gut health because they kill both good and bad bacteria. The bad and opportunistic bacteria are able to thrive when the good bacteria aren't there to keep them in check. That's why it's super important to make sure you're getting good bacteria during and after taking antibiotics.

So what should you take if you have to take antibiotics? I'm getting my information from Chris Kresser , my favorite nutrition guru, and Sarah from The Healthy Home Economist. They both have similar recommendations:

  • take probiotics

  • consume fermented foods

  • drink bone broth to restore the gut lining

The type of probiotic you take is important according to both Chris Kresser and the Healthy Home Economist. Saccharomyces boulardi is beneficial yeast that Sarah recommends taking twice a day while you're on antibiotics. This yeast helps keep the pathogenic yeast Candida albicans in check and antibiotics don't kill yeast.  You can buy saccharomyces boulardi in capsules from Jarrow. Or I used Garden Of Life's primal defense ultra which has saccharomyces boulardi as well as other lacto and bifido strains. To give it to my son, I opened the capsule and put just a tiny bit in his yogurt or smoothie every day. (Please ask your doctor or practitioner before giving this to your child.)

Take the saccharomyces twice a day while on antibiotics and for 30 days after. Take a good quality probiotic twice a day for 60 days after finishing the antibiotics. I like Bio-Kult, Prescript Assist and Garden Of Life's primal defense ultra. For kiddos, there's Bio-Kult infantis and Garden of Life kids probiotic.

You want to consume fermented foods to make sure you are getting lots of different strains of good bacteria. Homemade yogurt and kefir are great. I also suggest fermented veggies like sauerkraut and kimchi and beverages like kombucha and beet kvass. Try to take 1 tablespoon to half a cup 2-3 times a day. 

Chris Kresser also suggests eating foods with soluble fiber to feed the probiotics. Root vegetables like carrots, beets, turnips and winter squash have lots of soluble fiber. Sarah also says to avoid refined carbohydrates (bread, pasta, crackers, etc.) and fruit juices. These foods are high in sugar and feed the bad bacteria in your gut. 

I hope you feel more reassured knowing what you can do to minimize the side effects of taking antibiotics. If your little one is taking antibiotics frequently, I recommend working with a practitioner who can help you get to the root of the problem.

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Martha Lewis, MS

Jackson Hole, WY



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