Digestive Enzymes for a Baby

digestive enzyme baby feet

I’ve been searching everywhere for information!

On what you ask?

Well you probably guessed by the title, I’ve been trying to find information about administering a baby with digestive enzymes.

Unfortunately we have had to put our little man on formula (at 5 weeks of age) as a result of his silent reflux.

I read in an old forum how a mother used enzymes with her child who suffered from very bad silent reflux. She had amazing results!

What did she do? Unfortunately her answer was somewhat SHORT and not very helpful! And I couldn’t contact her!

I searched and searched everywhere for an answer as to whether it would be safe to give my son digestive enzymes with his powdered milk and also any guidance as to dosage, timings etc.

I found very little to no information – I spoke to qualified dieticians, nutritionists, paediatricians, just about everyone you can imagine, all resulting with some form of disparity in their answers – though somehow I managed to piece everything together to come to my own conclusion.

Why digestive enzymes?

Breast milk contains many natural enzymes which help the baby digestive and assimilate the food quickly and easily.

However, with powdered milk, there are NO enzymes at all (unless you have a hydrolysed version – and this is only for the milk protein in the milk which is “pre-digested”, therefore there are no real enzymes present in the actual milk), as a result the baby’s system is overwhelmed with having to produce and utilise its owns enzymes to digest the food.

I wanted to say this in my own words, however Jon Barron summed it up so well, I just had to quote him:

“When we continually eat foods that are enzyme dead (cooked or processed), we force the body to divert its production of enzymes away from proteolytic enzymes designed to govern metabolic functions into proteolytic enzymes designed to break down dead proteins in our diets. The health consequences of this diversion are enormous.” (2)

After a few weeks of running about (mentally as well as physically) searching for any information, I received a surprise reply from someone at enzymedica (company specialising in enzymes), they told me that it would be safe to give the baby approximately 1/4 to 1/2 a capsule before each feed.

This is exactly what I did!

I was also happy to learn that their capsules were Vegan friendly – not that it would make much difference to my son.

At first, I was a bit apprehensive, as you can probably imagine, however I really wanted my son to take the enzymes as I personally knew the benefits of having them in my own diet.

My experience

I first started taking digestive enzymes back in 2004, when I read an article propounding their benefits.

At the time, I had acne and I was trying to solve this dilemma!

I had tried so many different pills, diets, skin care regimes…the list goes on!

When I read about digestive enzymes and how they help an overburdened system digest food, it seemed to make sense to try them.

Just before I started taking the enzymes, I was on quite a restricted diet to figure out what was causing my acne, hence I was in a long process of elimination.

From one extreme to another!

The same day I received my enzymes (in the morning), I had to go up north to visit some family too.

This was BAD news!

Some of my family eat quite unhealthy food, very processed and high in fat!

I knew this would be a big test for the enzymes so I decided to eat everything and not stress too much.

I was tired of restricting my diet!

I also wanted to see how far I could push it! Would these enzymes allow me to eat everything without getting acne?

The enzymes worked very well and my acne didn’t reappear unless I really overate and had very high fat meals.

I was pleasantly surprised and somewhat excited!

Anyway back to the topic…

My son’s results

After the first day all seemed well, his stools were normal and there was no sign of any disturbance.

He has been on the enzymes for nearly two months now and no problems at all!

I spoke to two paediatricians who didn’t object to the enzyme supplementation.

After initially giving my son a ¼ to ½ a capsule before each feed, I ended up mixing the enzymes with his actual milk as it was proving to be too difficult to give the enzymes in a little water via a syringe (especially when we travel!).

My advice

If you want to give your infant some form of digestive enzyme to ease the burden put on their system, I advise you speak to a paediatrician/specialist before going ahead.

If you’re given the green light, then great!  It’s probably one of the best decisions you’ll make for your child(ren).

In terms of taking enzymes for breast fed babies, this is something that I would not emphasize as much, though it is still good to do so.  However, from my “fact finding mission” I did learn that undigested proteins in the mother’s diet can seep into the breast milk, thereby causing the baby problems (this has been especially noticed with dairy products in the mother’s diet).

  • Further reading:

(1) Foods matter article on Digestive Enzymes

(2) Jon Barron – Enzymes, Part 3 (You’ll also find parts 1 & 2 there too, I highly recommend you read them!)


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5 Responses to Digestive Enzymes for a Baby
  1. Razvan Ardelean
    September 7, 2010 | 9:56 pm

    I find you post very interesting. I have also a baby with silent reflux and we struggle for 6 month now to solve this problem and nothing seems to put an end to it. I want to ask how is your baby feeling lately? If you gave those digestive enzymes for so long now, don’t you worry that the baby enzymatic system will get lazy and will learn to rely on the external enzyme suply? Did you find a natural enzyme product specially for babies?

    • the health blogger
      September 12, 2010 | 12:12 am

      Hi Razvan,

      My baby is well thank you very much.

      The thing we need to understand here is that breast milk is obviously the best milk for the baby to have. It is FULL of enzymes and hence is easily digested by the baby.

      Formula milk is a “substitute” and hence does not contain the naturally occurring enzymes that are present in the breast milk.

      Therefore I want to make sure that my son digests the processed formula milk properly.

      I’m not worried about his system becoming dependant on the enzymes, I could pose a similar question to you, are you not worried about your baby becoming dependant on the enzymes in their breast milk? I hope you realise what I’m trying to get at here, though unfortunately it is beyond the scope of a comment.

      Though the result of enzyme usage is not clearly evident (not instantaneously anyway, especially in the case of reflux), I recommend researching other options too.

      My son’s silent reflux was quite bad and after hours of research we hoped that omeprazole would fix his situation until he “grows out” of the problem.

      Unfortunately there are no recommendations for omeprazole usage in the UK for babies under the age of 1.

      Hence doctors are somewhat reluctant to prescribe this medicine.

      I came across a brilliant site which gives exact dosages for babies under the age of 1 and also provides letters which parents can show to their doctor/physician, thereby bridging the gap and avoiding dismissal of the information by the doctor.

      Unfortunately our doctor in the UK was very arrogant and took our research as offensive, as if we were trying to tell her how to do her job!

      It didn’t go down well and we were told that we could not change the dosage for our son.

      However, whilst on a visit to Brussels, my wife and I took our little man to a specialist paediatrician who was extremely open to suggestion and generally quite down to earth. After having shown him the website, he straight away told me that he used the same guidelines when prescribing omeprazole!

      What a relief!

      The site is: http://www.marci-kids.com

      I really didn’t want to use any pharmaceutical medicine for my son unnecessarily, however his reflux was quite bad and as you probably know, it is extremely stressful for parents!

      I hope this helps.

      If you have any further questions etc. please feel free to comment back here.

      • Razvan Ardelean
        September 14, 2010 | 3:31 pm

        We also gave him omeprazole at the point when he could not eat anymore but this medicine induce him some ulgy side effects so we stopped it and tried to find some natural treatment. I know omeprazole is not tested and not recommended on babies younger than 1 year. Also, omeprazole is just an acid inhibitor and does not address the real cause of the reflux.
        We gave him some probiotics products and started homeopathic treatment and his condition improved. But the reflux is not completely extinct and we feel that the problem is at the gastro tract thus being a digestive problem.
        In your initial post you said you gave your little one some digestive enzymes from enzymedica. I found their site but there are many digestive products and I want to ask you which one did you ordered for your baby. I see they have also a kids digest product which is not caps.

        • the health blogger
          September 14, 2010 | 3:51 pm

          Razvan, what side effects did your baby have with omeprazole?

          I bought the ‘Lacto’ product by enzymedica.

          I was advised to use this one after I emailed them my query.

          I give my son between a quarter to half a capsule per feed (the capsules are quite easily opened and only contain powder residue).

  2. Joanna
    June 17, 2011 | 9:50 pm

    The Pro-Belly-Otics work for kids and babies and are on sale until tomorrow am–these are really amazing (I use them) unlike any probiotics i have used:


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