Prev Next
Probiotics Antibiotics

Pro/Antibiotics

By Amalah

Dearest Amalah–

First off, congratulations on 3 boys! Forget saving for college…you better start padding your grocery fund for the coming years!

Advice Smackdown ArchivesOkay, my question is medically related…sort of. My daughter, who just turned 1 last week, also just came down with her first ear infection to celebrate (complete with a late night trip to the ER when her temperature spiked to 104.6 WITH Motrin…yeah, saddest thing ever). Anyways, since she’s one now, she has been prescribed Amoxicillin twice a day for TEN DAYS. This is probably normal. I don’t know, I’m a first time mom, but that just seems crazy to me.

Anyways, I’m not a huge fan of antibiotics, but I will follow the instructions because I want my baby to be better. My question is if you had any tips for what you do with your kids when they are on antibiotics to prevent some of the nasty side effects. I know when we are on antibiotics, my husband and I eat kefir to try to replace the good bacteria in our bellies. Should we do the same with her? Any other tricks you try?

Please let me know. And soon would be great. Thanks Amalah!

ERB

Ugh, YES. THIS. Welcome to the wonderful world of antibiotics. Yes, essential and civilization-saving and all that, but also one of the LEAST FUN THINGS you as a parent will ever reluctantly force down your child’s throat.

My kids have — collectively — only been on antibiotics a very small handful of times. When I was a child, I was given them pretty excessively for every minor ear infection ever. I think I was on antibiotics for MONTHS at a time for a good two years, because that’s just what you did back then when kids were even mildly ill. I eventually had tubes put in my ears, which solved the chronic infection problem, but not before I was left with a host of permanent side effects (tooth discoloration, a good DOZEN prescription drug allergies that I have never outgrown). On the plus side, I’m pretty good at figuring out how to treat a ton of mild illnesses without the help of antibiotics, because they’ve simply been off the table for me since childhood.

My pediatrician usually sends us home from a sick visit with a prescription but with the caveat to “wait and see” and give it another night or two to see if we can’t weather the illness without the meds. And we usually can, but occasionally, sure. What we thought a mild ear infection turned out to be a pretty bad double infection, or Ezra managed to spectacularly injure himself and antibiotics were prescribed as a preventive measure. Fun!

The good news is that — for us, anyway — the first round of antibiotics is always the worst, in terms of side effects. So just because you’re beyond horrified at what the Amoxicillin is doing to your poor baby girl right now, rest assured that it likely won’t be THAT BAD again should she ever need them again in the future. I don’t know if it’s an age or exposure thing, but I do know that Noah on antibiotics at age four is NOTHING like Noah on antibiotics at age one.

In the meantime, how to offset the side effects? Obviously, yes, probiotics are a HUGE HELP when you’re dealing with an upset stomach or hideous diaper rash from antibiotics. I still remember those diapers. Oh my God. Somebody hold me.

Kefir is a great start, or any kind of yogurt really, but we always bust out the pure, powdered probiotics and dilute them in whatever liquid the kid will accept. Kids sometimes get a little extra picky and lethargic about food and drink when they’re not feeling well, so I find it’s best not to count on them accepting yogurt smoothies or probiotic-boosted oatmeals right when they really could use them. Going with a powder gives you a bit more flexibility when faced with a cranky toddler who will only drink That One Kind of Apple Juice. You can even mix the powder into foods, like pudding, applesauce, ICE CREAM, whatever it takes. Whole Foods sells several kids’ formulas — you keep ’em in the fridge, and they’re handy for whenever you suspect some tummy problems emerging, or a yeast-based diaper rash, or just as a daily boost for their morning milk.

If you can’t find the kids’ powders and don’t have time to go hunting for them, MOST pharmacies and drug stores now stock some kind of probiotic supplement. Find one in capsule form and just open the capsule and dump the powdered contents into her drink or cereal or whatever. Don’t stress about the dosage — one adult-sized capsule is still a very reasonable amount that isn’t going to hurt her or anything. And if she’ll drink yogurt-based smoothies or eat it straight from the container, by all means go for that too. Her body will find the balance, eventually.

One last thing, just because I know this ALWAYS comes up when we’re talking kids and diarrhea: Note that the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce & Toast) is NOT RECOMMENDED for small children, at least not for more than 24 hours or so. I know, I know! We all grew up with it and my mom still swears by it and I KNOW, OKAY. But: the American Academy of Pediatrics says that while those “binding” type of foods can certainly be ADDED to a child’s diet, they should absolutely NOT replace the child’s normal line-up of foods. BRAT is too nutritionally incomplete (even most adults are now advised to resume eating as normal a diet as possible when faced with a stomach bug), and your child needs to keep her energy level up and her immune system in gear, and a diet of white rice and bananas alone aren’t going to help any. So feed her “the usual” meals without fear, try some popsicles, and put butter and jelly on the toast, if that’s what she’ll eat. Binding foods are great, definitely, but keeping a child on a restricted diet for say, a full 10-day course of antibiotics, is not such a great idea.

__________________________________________________________________
If there is a question you would like answered by Amalah on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected]

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

icon icon
chat bubble icon

Comments

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
NinaN
Guest
NinaN

We just went through this, same drugs and nasty ear infection. Only it was in our not quite 3 months old baby!!!! What worked awesome for our poor little guy are the BioGaia probiotic drops. So simple. Just a few drops on your nipple, or a soother or a bottle or right into the mouth. Or you could add it to whatever they will eat! The only downside is that they can be hard to find. I guess since they need to be refridgerated, not every pharmacy will carry them. But totally worth hunting them down!

Olivia
Guest
Olivia

Huh, my toddler is currently taking amoxicillan for the second time in her life and I have yet to see any of these side effects. Maybe it’s because she likes yogurt a lot. This is also the first time I’ve heard of the BRAT diet. It sounds dreadful, no wonder it’s not recommended.

Ally
Guest
Ally

The first time my son had to take antibiotics was last spring for Lyme Disease. He had to take 3 weeks worth and it actually wasn’t bad. We gave him lots of yogurt and he was sad when we stopped the medicine (he loved taking it). 

Crabby Apple Seed
Guest

Also: avoid fruit juice during episodes of diarrhea. (really, avoid fruit juice as much as possible, it’s baby candy, but that’s another rant for another day.) So many sources are unclear on this and recommend “clear liquids” for kids with diarrhea, but juice is HORRIBLE for diarrhea and will make it worse. Unfortunately, since a lot of kids will become temporarily lactose-intolerant following a GI-related illness, that pretty significantly curtails your choices, but stick with water/pedialyte/gatorade as much as possible. fruit juice = more diarrhea.

tami
Guest
tami

i have to second the call for probiotics powder. that stuff has been great! we are on our second round of antibiotics for an ear infection and our little one’s poop is so nice and firm when she takes the probiotics. we just put it in her last bottle of the night. good luck!

Bridget
Guest
Bridget

My diarrhea recommendation #1 is Rice Milk – that stuff helped my son tremendously last time.
Also, if your LO is having trouble with the flavor of the antibiotics, try another flavor. I could not for the life of me get my son to take his grape flavored antibiotics, but watermelon? That’s like a treat to him. It seems obvious, but it wasn’t to me!

Karen
Guest
Karen

I’m in the same camp “this is not a big deal” camp with Olivia and Ally. My 17 month old just took her second round of Amox. for ear infection that accompanied a cold (one each winter). She does eat regular yogurt every day and we had zero side effects and she LOVED taking the yummy pink stuff. She would come running when we said “time for medicine” and suck it straight out of the dropper. The first time around she had a mild yeast infection in her diaper area but that cleared up in a day with miconazole. 10… Read more »

BB
Guest
BB

Oh my GOD those diapers from the antibiotics. One minute everything is fine and I swear, 10 minutes after they take the meds their backside looks like hamburger. SO awful. My daycare provider gave me a tip the first time this happened to my son. The rash can often be a yeast infection brought on by the antibiotics. (Yes boys can get those too.) She told me to make a paste of equal parts Monistat cream, Desitin, and Malox and just slather it all over the rash. Let it air dry if you can. I thought this sounded a little… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

Thanks for the powdered probiotic tip–I’ll keep that in mind next time they’re not eating so well. We’ve been lucky (knock on wood) so far that only one of our three kids has EVER needed an antibiotic. Unfortunately, when our daughter took amoxicillin for an ear infection, she had a nasty allergic reaction–itchy, bumpy hives all over her body. It has made me kind of nervous for the next time she needs to take something. Our pediatrician, who has kind of a natural bent, now recommends steeping garlic in olive oil and putting drops in her ears several times a… Read more »

Diana
Guest
Diana

FYI – if your kid (like mine) doesn’t like yogurt – Trader Joe’s has probiotic whole wheat crackers

Julie
Guest
Julie

Yeah, 10 days to 2 weeks is the standard recommended course for most anitbiotics. Definitely stick with it for the full course, or you run an increased risk of anitbiotic resistant bacteria cropping up. Current recommendations are to “wait and see” for ear infections over 2 years old, so at least the “anitbiotics first” time period won’t last too much longer. But it is frustrating. My son had as bunch of ear infections when he was between 6 months and a year old – they were never symptomatic, but would show up at his routine checkups. One refused to go… Read more »

Chaya
Guest
Chaya

Nothing much to add on the antibiotics, thankfully my kids seem to do fine with amoxicillin, but the yogurt and such certainly helps.  
As far as the yeast diaper rashes, I am no expert, but oats and cornstarch as recommended by a poster above, I always thought were NOT a good idea, b\c the yeast can essentially feed off of the sugars in those things.  Would love an actual medical professional to chime in (despite a dr. recently asking me if i have a medical background, I am “just” a mom!)

Liz
Guest
Liz

I believe that antibiotics can destroy probiotics if they are taken concurrently so be sure to continue taking the probiotics for a week or 2 after the antibiotics are done.

I 2nd the suggestion for applying Monistat cream externally for a yeasty diaper rash. For boys or girls.

I would look for ‘live and active cultures’ on your yogurt and avoid those neon blue yogurts full of sugar. They are not quite the same!

wallydraigle
Guest

My almost-one-year-old just had a sinus/ear infection. They started her on amoxicillin, which wasn’t working, so she was upgraded to cefdinir. The best part? This was in the midst of a cross-country move. One day spent at a friend’s house while the movers packed our belongs, one day spent in our cold, empty house while the movers packed the truck, one two-hour drive to Chicago, one night’s stay in a hotel room, one plane flight, and one week more in another hotel. I was ready to sell my children by the end, and they weren’t even that difficult. Anyhow, shovel… Read more »

Lisa M
Guest
Lisa M

Just another tip, you can also add that probiotic powder to the diaper cream and put it right on their poor little bums. I started doing this when we had a really nasty case of thrush while breastfeeding. I was putting probiotics on everything! (and taking them, and eating yogurt….) But it worked so well, I resorted to it anytime either boy was on an antibiotic. Plus, even think it actually works better than monistat (which is really just an anti-fungal, where as the probiotic consumes the excess yeast). And definitely finish all 10 days of the amoxicillin! Super important.

Kathleen
Guest
Kathleen

Thoughts from a microbiologist-  Amalah is probably right, one adult dose of probiotics is most likely fine (depends on what you buy – they are so unregulated), but that’s not one every hour, please keep it to a reasonable amount. I’ve heard horrid stories from hospital epidemiologists of perfectly well-meaning parents dosing their children to high heaven with probiotics until they got blood infections ***of the probiotic bacteria***. Also, not sure about the probiotic diaper cream – most of the bacteria in probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, which don’t normally live on your skin, and thus don’t help defend you… Read more »

maggie
Guest

Didn’t see this one mentioned: for the horrendous diaper rash caused by yeast, get some Athlete’s foot cream (clotrimazole) which is an anti-fungal and just rub a little on the affected area. It works wonders! It is like a miracle. My babies had the WORST rashes and once my doctor recommended this, we were so grateful.

Della
Guest

Hoo boy. We’ve had yeast infections. We’ve had diarrhea. We’ve had regular diaper rash plus yeast infections compounded with diarrhea. We had one generalist (non pediatrician) doctor give us the spectacularly bad suggestion of throwing some hydrocortisone cream on that last rash… Result? Blood where the skin used to be, across the entire bottom, front to back, side to side. (Some steroids thin the skin, and the acid of the pee and poop plus friction from the diaper literally rubbed his skin off.) See a pediatrician for baby problems! More recently, there was the ear infection antibiotics started the day… Read more »