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The Benefits Of Fermented Foods For Kids

Published October 10, 2022

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Fermented Foods Kids Love

Fermented foods are an easy and tasty way to support gut health in children, even in picky eaters! Not only are these probiotic-packed foods bursting with flavor, but they are also versatile, making them easy to incorporate into daily meals and snacks. Looking for fermented food kids love? Look no further! In fact, it is possible you already have some of these foods in your fridge. 

What are Fermented Foods?

Before getting into how to incorporate fermented foods into your kiddo’s diet, it is important to know what fermentation is. Fermentation is the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria or yeast and results in an increase in beneficial gut bacteria called probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that boost gut diversity and help to balance out the “bad bacteria” in the gut.

Why are Fermented Foods Great for Kids?

Probiotics live in the digestive tract and promote healthy digestion. Incorporating even a few servings of fermented foods into your child’s daily diet encourages regular bowel movements and may help with constipation, diarrhea, and upset stomach. Fermented foods also promote immune function as they have the ability to synthesize vitamins and minerals, and even produce peptides that contain antioxidant and antimicrobial effects!

When can Kids Begin to Have Fermented Foods?

There is a lack of research for when it is a good time to start offering fermented foods to your child. Most doctors and health care practitioners are comfortable with offering small amounts once your child has begun solid foods. In fact, offering fermented foods at an early age broadens their palate and may lessen their desire to overconsume sweet foods later on. Examples of fermented foods to introduce to your child early on include buttermilk, miso, or tofu. Another option is to dip foods (or fingers) into the juice of sauerkraut to get your child accustomed to the taste.

How to Include More Fermented Foods in your Child’s Diet

From pickled veggies to cultured dairy products, there are many ways to include fermented foods into your child’s diet. Here are a few ideas for fermented foods kids love:

  1. Ketchup – Chicken nuggets with a side of probiotics? No problem! This homemade fermented ketchup is a great addition to many meals’ kids love and they won’t even know the difference!
  2. Pickles – A favorite among kids! Keep in mind that store-bought pickles are soaked in vinegar and are not fermented. In order to ensure your child is getting the health benefits of fermented pickles, purchase pickles made without vinegar or try making your own at home using this recipe here.
  3. Yogurt – Yogurt is made through a fermentation process to boost the probiotic content. At the grocery store, look for a brand of yogurt that says made with live cultures or cultured with probiotics.
  4. Kefir – A fermented milk drink rich in probiotics easily found in stores and often flavored with fruits. Makes for a delicious treat at any time and is an easy swap for the sugar packed yogurt drinks kids love. 
  5. Cheese – Kids love cheese! Serve aged cheese cut into cubes alongside apples or grapes for a well-balanced snack.
  6. Tempeh – High in protein and micronutrients, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and is a great meat substitute at meal times. Try a meatless Monday and make tempeh the main protein for your meal!
  7. Buttermilk – Buttermilk is fermented milk and commonly used in baking. Try using buttermilk as a dressing for lettuce, or as a substitute for heavy cream in your favorite recipe. Purewow has some good ideas.  
  8. Miso – Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning paste, made from fermented soybeans. It’s great in soups, as a fish marinade, or even added to a stir fry! 
  9. Tofu – Add soft tofu into smoothies, or bake the firm kind for dinner. Tofu pudding is especially delicious – check out this recipe

How Often?

If you can add a couple servings of fermented foods into your child’s diet every day, go for it! It’s actually something you may already be doing if your child is eating yogurt or Kefir for breakfast or getting cheese for a snack. 

Summary - Not only are fermented foods easy to incorporate into your child’s meal and snack times, but they are a tasty way to improve digestion, alleviate constipation, and even support immune function.
Danielle Zold, RDN, CLC

Danielle Zold, RDN CLC

Danielle Zold is a Registered Dietitian based out of Denver, Colorado. Danielle is owner of Bitty Bites Nutrition, LLC and specializes in pediatric nutrition and picky eating.