gut health in toddlers

12 Unique Signs Of Poor Gut Health In Toddlers

Do you live in Ottawa and are looking for signs of poor gut health in toddlers?

If so, you are in the right place.

Today, I will tell you about the 12 unique signs of poor gut health in toddlers I see in my practice.

Even better, I will share why your toddler has poor gut health, how probiotics can help, and how a Functional Medicine approach can help identify the root cause of your toddler’s symptoms.

In This Article:

Let’s jump in and look at why microbiota health is so essential to gut health in toddlers.

Why Microbiota Health Is So Important In Gut Health In Toddlers

What lies behind and before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The gut contains:

  • 60-70% of our immune cells
  • 100 million neurons
  • 100 trillion bacteria, known as the gut microbiota

The gut is not all about killer microbes.

Instead, it is about our inner Ecosystem.

This Ecosystem contains more than ten times more cells and 150 times more genes than our body.

Consequently, this is where our disease or health begins.

When looking at our gut health, there is a yin/yang or push-pull between tolerance and immune response, leading to Autoimmune disease.

This push-pull begins between our genes, epigenetics, and environmental factors such as diet and toxins.

Our genes load the gun, but our environment pulls the trigger, leading to:

  • Increased gut permeability or leaky gut
  • A microbiome response

This interaction leads to symptoms in toddlers.

What Factors Should You Look At When Determining Poor Gut Health In Toddlers?

There are two factors you should consider when identifying poor determining poor gut health in toddlers:

  • Basic nutritional signs
  • Common digestive signs and symptoms

Basic Nutritional Signs

Zinc Deficiency

  • Acne/sparse hair/psoriasis
  • White spots/lines on nails
  • Canker sores

Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency

  • Keratosis pilaris
  • Dry, Coarse hair

Magnesium Deficiency

  • Muscle twitches, tingling, restless legs and insomnia
  • Sighing, salt cravings and constipation
  • Easily startled, brisk reflexes and sound sensitivity

Vitamin D Deficiency

  • Low Mood
  • Depression

Low Vitamin D can also affect our Microbiota and increase the probability of toddlers developing leaky gut, immune activation and autoimmunity.

Signs Of Poor Gut Health In Toddlers

  • Constipation – huge, hard stools, small pebbles and infrequent bowel movements.
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating and gas
  • Muscle wasting and failure to thrive
  • Insatiable appetite
  • Foul breath
  • Body odour
  • Poor Sleep
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Posturing –  children who throw themselves over the back of a chair and sleep in a fetal position
  • Probing the anus and smearing their poo
  • Irritability

What are the Causes Of Poor Gut Health In Toddlers?


Dysbiosis is where there is an imbalance of microbes in the gut microbiota.

Common imbalances and their signs and symptoms include:


  • Anal Itching and probing
  • Picking, biting, licking 
  • Teeth grinding 
  • Aggression


  • Rash
  • Peeling Feet
  • Ridged, discoloured nails
  • Inflamed cheeks
  • Inflamed anus
  • Signs of Ringworm

What Does A Healthy Microbiota Do For Toddlers?

A toddler’s healthy Microbiota does the following:

  • Modulates our immune system
  • Regulates gut motility and gut lining integrity
  • Improves our nutritional status – mineral and vitamin absorption
  • Controls our blood sugar and insulin sensitivity
  • Modulates neurotransmitters, in particular serotonin.
  • Produced compounds that promote gut lining healing especially short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) like Butyrate.
  • Regulates weight management and metabolism
  • Modulates system inflammation

Our modern diets, lifestyle and use of medications, especially antibiotics, disrupt a toddler’s normal intestinal microbiota and cause dysbiosis.

The consequences of dysbiosis are the following:

  • Reduced SCFA production
  • Increased pathogenic overgrowth – especially C.diff as well as parasites and yeast
  • Reduced abundance of beneficial bacteria
  • Systemic inflammation leads to disease in children, including neurodevelopment disorders such as ADD, ADHD and Autism.

The research literature has often shown the link between dysbiosis and neurodevelopment.

When Does Dysbiosis Start In Toddlers?

Dysbiosis begins in the first 1000 days of life.

If a toddler is bottle-fed, has multiple infections and antibiotic treatments, and was born via C-section, this will lead to dysbiosis.

Otherwise, dysbiosis will lead to a pro-inflammatory response to food antigens leading to food sensitivities.

Factors affecting the health of a toddler’s early Microbiota include:

  • Proper colonization at birth from the mother’s vaginal fluid.
  • Swabbing infants with maternal vaginal fluid is highly recommended if the child is born via C-section.
  • The diet should begin with maternal nutrition, i.e. breastfeeding.
  • Introduction of foods at six months should begin with vegetables and protein. The carbohydrate introduction should come later.

How Can Prebiotics and Probiotics Help?

The use of prebiotics in babies has been shown to promote the growth of commensal bacteria and improve intestinal motility and bowel movements.

The use of probiotics in babies has been shown to:

  • Strengthen the gut lining
  • Enhance immunity of the gut lining
  • Help expel pathogens
  • Reduce inflammation in the gut

Get Dirty And Air Borne Exposure

Research has shown that early exposure to pets can reduce the risk of childhood allergies and other airborne insults such as viruses.

Exposure to house dust helps strengthen the microbiome and immune system against allergens and viruses.

Exposure to soil rich in healthy bacteria can also strengthen a toddler’s microbiome and immune system.

What Probiotics Should Toddlers Be Taking?

Infant probiotic formulas should contain Bifidobacterium infantis and sometimes enzymes for improved digestion.

Toddlers’ probiotics should contain Bifidobacterium infantis plus B animals and Lactobacillus.

Saccharomyces Boulardii, a yeast-type probiotic, can also benefit toddlers as it has many benefits, including discouraging the pathogens such as Candida.

My Functional Medicine Approach To Poor Gut Health In Toddlers

A Functional Medicine approach is about identifying and treating the root cause of symptoms.

In toddlers, like any other client, this process begins with a thorough medical current and past medical history.

This history is the primary source as to what might be the cause of the child’s presenting symptoms.

In practice, I examine the toddlers’ body using muscle response testing or Applied Kinesiology.

Sometimes, I may recommend stool testing or bloodwork through a Family Doctor.

When looking at poor gut health in toddlers, I consider the presence of food sensitivities, too much histamine, dysbiosis (yeast overgrowth, parasites) and bacterial overgrowth.

Treatment usually begins with dietary and lifestyle changes and the introduction of probiotics.

If a toddler has constipation, then a priority is to treat this first.

We can help constipation by using fibre, increasing fluids, exercising, especially swimming, coconut oil, Vitamin C, Magnesium Citrate, Aloe Vera, and Senna.

Now It’s Over To You

Are you concerned that your toddler has poor gut health?

Do they have any of the signs of poor gut health?

Let me know in the comments below.

Do You Need Help?

If you need help, I suggest you book a free functional medicine discovery session with me to determine whether my approach fits your toddler’s needs.


The information provided on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. Please do not apply this information without first speaking with your doctor.

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