Did you know that your baby’s (and your) gut talks to the brain?

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The gut is your baby's “second headquarters” and is in constant communication with the brain. This helps support your baby's total well-being and development. Read on to find out more.

Who here has dealt with a cranky baby?

The answer I guess is, everyone. It is perhaps one of the most frustrating moments of parenthood: dealing with a crying baby, especially when there is no apparent reason for distress.

We can soothe them quite easily if they are wet or have soiled themselves. Unfortunately, understanding their discomfort takes longer. To help our babies feel better, we need to kiss them, cuddle them and take a closer look at their gut health.

Distress in the gut may trigger an emotional reaction from the brain.

Confused? Hang on, let us explain.

There is no doubt that the brain is the central command system of the body and has the primary responsibility of our baby’s learning and cognitive development.

Therefore all the attention we give to the development of our little ones’ brains, especially in the early days, is completely understandable.

However, did you know that our babies’ bodies (and ours too!) have a “second headquarters” that we often ignore?

This second headquarters is the gut, which is the gastrointestinal tract starting from your mouth, stomach, small and large intestines, finally ending at the anus. Our baby’s gut needs as much attention in the early stages of his growth, as the brain. This is because the gut supports brain development both directly and indirectly, while also impacting the total well-being of our baby.


Gut talks to the brain about well-being

 We don’t realize it but the gut and the brain have a powerful two-way communication going on between them18,19.

  • Top-down from the brain to the gut: The brain communicates emotions to the gut which can influence its functioning.
  • Bottom-up from the gut to the brain: The gut sends messages to the brain about the baby’s sleep and appetite.

Two things make this communication possible.

First is the presence of 100 million neurons1 along the gut, thus forming a nervous system, which is in constant communication with the brain. Second is the fact that 90% of our body’s serotonin – the “feel good” hormone that enables brain cells and nervous system cells to communicate with each other is secreted in the gut8.

Serotonin has many functions, and the serotonin secreted in the gut is primarily responsible for regulating the bowel movement.

When it comes to our baby’s well-being – if the bowel movements are regular then it can influence his comfort and well-being, promote better sleep, which together help his day-to-day mood and prepare him to engage with the world.

Also, when the gut is healthy with plenty of good bacteria, there are increased levels of serotonin, which means that the brain can receive more signals of well-being.

On the other hand, poor gut health means that that the brain can receive messages of distress from it. This triggers alarm signals in the brain, which can manifest as irritability and crying19,20.

Remember, a baby feeling comfortable from within would be more ready and receptive to the stimuli around him.

Read on to find out how the gut helps supply fundamental building blocks to the brain.Keep reading to find out how you can win in the Dumex Spot the Wonders Contest – Over $10, 000 worth of prizes, including staycation prizes and a $7,000 jackpot travel voucher, await the lucky winners!


This article is brought to you by Danone Dumex®. Danone Dumex® is part of Nutricia, #1 Baby Milk company in Europe^

Ages & Stages Toddler Toddler Development