What Are GOS and FOS Prebiotics And Why Do We Need Them In Baby Formula?

What Are GOS and FOS Prebiotics And Why Do We Need Them In Baby Formula?

If you’re a parent wondering “what are FOS and GOS prebiotics in my baby’s formula and why are they important?” we’ve got the answers.

Before we begin: Please note that probiotics, gut microbiota and gut flora are the same descriptors for live bacteria found in the intestine.


You may be wondering why GOS or FOS are present in your baby’s formula milk - and what makes these two ingredients so important in your little one’s formula-fed diet. Here at Kendamil, we’ve got you covered!


🤔 GOS and FOS: What Are They?

GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides) and FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides) are prebiotics. Prebiotics are the essential food source for intestinal flora (better known as gut microbiota - a complex system of bacteria which keep the gut, and the rest of the body, functioning). You will generally  find prebiotics in foods high in dietary fibre (including bananas, asparagus, tomatoes and leeks). Studies have shown that more gut microbiota in the intestinal tract means better immunity, stronger metabolism, less inflammation and, with recent research, better brain function. You will find GOS and FOS in Kendamil Classic Stages 1 and 2, while you will find GOS in Kendamil Classic Stage 3, Kendamil Organic Stages 1-3 and Kendamil Goat Stages 1-3.

Because your little one can’t eat solid foods, it’s important that their milk contains the right amount of prebiotics to help their intestinal flora thrive and grow. If you choose to breastfeed your little one, you’re feeding your baby natural, targeted prebiotics, known as Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs). These HMOs shape an infant’s gut microbiota and help to modulate the ‘neonatal immunity in the infant gut’. 

For formula-fed little ones, their source of prebiotics are GOS and FOS - non-digestible carbohydrates which are added to baby formula. In fact, a comparative study on the metabolic activity of GOS/FOS fed babies and breastfed babies showed positive results, with the gut metabolic activity in formula-fed babies with GOS/FOS prebiotics shown to be similar to the gut metabolic activity of breastfed infants. Babies who were fed standard formula milk, without the addition of GOS/FOS prebiotics, had lower levels of this metabolic activity.

Long story, short? Prebiotics help your baby develop a healthy gut by feeding the beneficial bacteria in the GI tract. 


💪 The Gut-Immunity Connection.

Prebiotics, be they HMOs or GOS/FOS, help keep your baby’s gut healthy, providing the essential fibre that your little one needs to keep the gut metabolising. A young infant’s immune system is more vulnerable because their gut is less diverse than a fully formed adult’s, while normally your little one cannot get their essential prebiotics from solid foods until they start weaning. It’s therefore important to build up your little one’s gut flora to kickstart their immunity. 

You may be wondering “what’s the connection between a healthy gut and better immunity?”. 

The relationship between the gut and immune system is a strong one. Our intestines contain more immune cells than anywhere else in the body. In fact, 80% of our immune system is located in our digestive tract! Our gut contains a thin wall of cells that maintains a barrier between the intestine and the rest of the bloodstream. Behind that barrier are cells which link to the immune system. These cells are responsible for the immune response. 

So, more prebiotics in a little one’s (or anyone’s!) diet means that the gut bacteria in our GI tract can grow. Bacteria feed on prebiotics and essentially multiply. More healthy gut bacteria means a stronger lining, better immune cell function and quicker immune response. Less of this gut bacteria can lead to greater inflammation.


📝 ✅ To Conclude.

  • HMOs and GOS/FOS are prebiotics
  • Prebiotics are a food source for gut flora (live bacteria)
  • Prebiotics are recognised as beneficial in maintaining infant immunity
  • More prebiotics means more essential gut flora to keep a baby’s GI tract healthy and inflammation low

related articles

19 May 2023

Fascinating Newborn Facts

As you are likely learning as a parent, your little one is full of surprises – and there’s plenty more in store! We asked...

read now

08 Jul 2022

3 ways to raise inclusive kids

Here at Kendamil, we believe that raising compassionate, inclusive children begins at home. And, because it’s never too early...

read now

23 May 2022

What Are GOS and FOS Prebiotics And Why Do We Need Them In Baby Formula?

Before we begin: Please note that probiotics, gut microbiota and gut flora are the same descriptors for live bacteria found in the intestine.   read now

20 May 2022

Sugar-free mini banana muffins!

Treat your little one (or yourself!) to one of these sugar-free mini banana muffins. We love them because they're the perfect healthy breakfast AND...

read now

17 May 2022

Kendamil is a Sustainable Baby Milk: Vegetarian, Fish oil-free, Palm oil-free & Plant-based DHA.

Here at Kendamil, we’re a fully sustainable brand. We believe in looking after your little ones’ future in more ways than one. That’s why...

read now

11 May 2022

When to stop formula feeding

If you’re a parent with a toddler on your hands, you might have a few questions about when to stop breastfeeding or formula feeding....

read now

03 May 2022

5 ways to support parents going back to work

Returning to work after maternity or paternity leave can feel a bit like a balancing act*. From managing your emotions on being...

read now

03 May 2022

3 Tips to support parents working from home with their little ones ✨

Here at Kendamil, we know what it’s like to be remote-working parents. For many of us, working from home is beneficial - helping us to...

read now

26 Apr 2022

Did you know that not all baby formulas are the same?!

Here at Kendamil, we’re parents too. It’s our top priority to educate and inform fellow mums, dads and caregivers...

read now

14 Apr 2022

🥬🌽 Spinach and Sweetcorn Muffins 🥬🌽

Our Spinach and Sweetcorn muffins are sure to be a hit for weaning little ones (and parents, too - we won’t judge if you grab one...

read now