Your baby’s brain is developing like a flourishing tree – they’re branching out. Their nerves are increasing and making connections. Doctors at Harvard Medical say that this process affects learning, memory, and abilities like multitasking and self-control. These connections are of major importance to your baby’s cognition, both in childhood and adulthood. The success of early growth determines how your baby’s brain will work for the rest of their lives.
How can you ensure your baby is getting the right food to help their brain development? We’ve put together a list of 10 nutrient-rich food types that will and promote brain cell growth.
Your breast milk contains immune-boosting nutrients that will actively encourage the growth of myelin (mentioned above). Other immune-boosting components can only be found in breast milk.
Healthy fats found in avocados, nuts, eggs, and raw oils, are necessary for your baby’s brain development. They both insulate and enhance growth in the nervous system. Healthy fats also help create new nerve connections and new growth of brain cells.
You can still even go for less healthy full-fat dairy products from the age of 1, to help your child grow, but begin to cut down on these when they are two, according to the NHS.
B-complex supports brain health and improves mental performance by helping convert food to energy. The high levels of B-complex vitamins in avocados reduce the risk of hypertension in babies. You can also find it in oats, dairy, eggs, leafy greens and seeds. B vitamins are not produced in your baby’s body so need to come from their diet.
Soft foods like these can officially be introduced from six months.
Omega Fatty Acids
The three main types of omega fatty acids are found in flaxseed and fish. Broccoli is high in DHA, (as well as oleic acid which protects myelin), making it a great food for your baby’s cognitive growth. It can also reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic disease later in life.
Fish specifically can be introduced from six months, for your baby to avoid developing an allergy.
Probiotics help to build a strong environment for good bacteria. Recent studies have found a strong link between our gut and our brain. Yoghurt (live, probiotic) is a great source for good bacteria. Fermented food such as sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, and kombucha also contain probiotics.
As babies are born with a sterile, bacteria-less GI, feeding them specific probiotic supplements for their first three months may help prevent colic and reduce their crying time, but only under the recommendation of a doctor.
Antioxidants boost immune defenses and are important for your new-born baby. They can stimulate genes and protect them from viruses. Most fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants, however, some of the higher carriers are berries, grapes, green leafy vegetables, red cabbage, garlic, and olives.
These should be introduced at six months, with other solid foods.
Fiber helps regulate the release of glucose into your baby’s body. Their brain needs a constant supply of glucose. Fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, berries, vegetables like carrots and broccoli, and nuts and seeds, will do their job! A recent study examining children’s dietary intake concluded that it children with a higher fiber intake performed far better in cognitive tasks.
However, the NHS says to only introduce much more wholegrain foods after the age of two.
High Mineral Foods
Minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc are critical for a strong nervous system. A strong nervous system will help your baby’s body to send messages from the brain to the rest of their body. Calcium can be found in dairy and leafy greens and will help bone growth and strength. Iron is necessary to carry oxygen around your baby’s body and can be found in red meat, cacao or dark chocolate, and leafy greens. Zinc is important for enhancing memory. Nuts, legumes, eggs, and dairy are all rich in zinc.
Nuts specifically should be ground up before serving, and eggs fully cooked, but beyond that this beneficial food group has few dangers. In fact, iron is imperative, because a baby’s natural store of iron gets used up by six months.
Protein is an important part of your baby’s growth process because it forms part of all the cells in the body. It also strengthens and makes new cells. Netrin, a lean protein, can help create a healthy nervous system in a baby’s developing brain, by directing the cells to make the right connections. Healthy protein can be found in dairy, nuts, seeds and lean white meat like turkey.
Studies have shown that the area of the baby’s brain connected with memory and language development, are richer in natural vitamin e. Most nuts are high in this vitamin along with oats, seeds, green vegetables, and avocado.
You can feed your baby’s brain to nurture their mind. A diet comprising the foods above is necessary for the best growth possible, which will enhance your child’s intellectual growth. With a diverse and nutritious diet, you will encourage healthy growth and brain development in your baby.
Author Bio: Beatrice, a professional copywriter for Origin Writings and Academic Brits, is focused on lifestyle and child-rearing articles. She enjoys sharing her personal experiences as a mother and helping other parents raise their young kids. Beatrice also works for PhD Kingdom as a writer.