The human body is covered with a thin film of microbes – a microscopic ecosystem that covers all of our body’s surfaces and protects us against germs, breaks down food to release energy, produces vitamins and more. The full collection of genes of all those microbes is called microbiome. In the womb, the baby lives in a more or less sterile environment. It is in the birth canal during vaginal delivery that he or she gets in contact with mother’s microbiome and starts building his or her own. Within a few years, the child will be covered in thousands of different species of microbes, and they colonize every millimeter of the body that’s exposed to the outside world. In the first few months of a baby’s life, it is essential to help the establishment of a healthy bacterial environment in areas like the skin and the gut.
How do we support that process?
- Your baby’s first microbiome coating. As mentioned above, during a vaginal birth, the baby is in contact with mom’s vaginal secretions and get coated with a film of microbes as she pass through the birth canal. Included in the mix are bacteria that help babies digest their first meal. Another source of the microbiome is the vernix. It is full of healthy oils and immune peptides.
- Bathing with water only. The skin of a newborn is working hard to create necessary oils and natural peptides. Using water (and gentle baby soap only if necessary) help the process go undisturbed.
- Breastmilk as a skin moisturizer. It is rich in fats and oils and provides immunoprotection. Apply to dry or irritated baby skin with your hands.
- Probiotics. Boosting mom’s microbiome is important for seeding healthy microbiome in the baby. Consider a balanced diet, enriched with increased amounts of yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods. Additional intake of a daily probiotic supplement is also an option for the new mom.
- Breastfeeding will feed your baby’s microbiome. Good bacteria found in store-bought infant probiotic supplements live naturally on a woman’s nipple. It contains specific sugars that are only digested by good bacteria found in a baby’s gut.
- Be generous with hugs and kisses. They pass along the good bacteria that live on your skin and in your saliva to your baby.
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Whether you realize it or not, one of the most important things that you can do for your newborn baby is support the development of his or her microbiome. Let me explain: The microbiome is the microscopic ecosystem that covers all of our body’s surfaces-including the skin, mouth, gut, vagina, and urinary tract.
More about the human microbiome:
Before birth, we’re all more or less sterile-we have no microbes. Within a few years, we’re covered in thousands of different species of microbes, and they colonize every millimeter of the body that’s exposed to the outside world. By the time we enter kindergarten, we have vastly different populations living in the different habitats around our bodies.