The nutrients that your baby takes in during their first 1000 days of life are crucial. During this time, the brain develops, laying a foundation for how it will function for the rest of its life.
The development during this time dictates the adult that your child will become. If you want to ensure that your baby has the best possible start in life, it’s important to include nutrient-rich foods in their diet as soon as possible.
These five foods contain nutrients that are essential to your child’s brain development.
There has been a lot of to-ing and fro-ing from medical professionals over whether eggs are good for us, as they are pretty high in cholesterol. However, it’s believed that cholesterol in eggs doesn’t raise cholesterol levels in the body the way other high-cholesterol foods do, such as foods containing trans fats and saturated fats.
Moreover, eggs are an excellent source of a wide range of vitamins and minerals essential for your baby’s brain development.
Eggs are an excellent source of:
- Protein (needed for muscle and tissue growth and repair)
- Vitamin B12 (keeps your body’s blood and nerve cells healthy)
- Vitamin B2 (helps break down foods to provide energy)
- Vitamin A (necessary for the immune system and vision)
- Vitamin B2 (essential for growth and B12 production)
- Selenium (used in DNA production and fighting infection)
All of the nutrients are essential for the developing brain.
The easiest way to feed eggs to a baby is to scramble them. Scrambled eggs are nice and soft, which makes them an easy food to use during weaning, too.
Oily fish is possibly one of the most important foods you can give to a baby to help brain development. Oily fish such as trout, salmon, sardines, pilchards and mackerel are an excellent source of both Vitamin D and Omega 3.
Vitamin D is vital for all of us, but particularly for growing babies, because of its role in growth and development, particularly of the bones and teeth.
Omega 3’s are essential fatty acids found only in oily fish. Our bodies cannot produce Omega 3’s themselves. However, they are crucial for brain development and also for heart health and the immune system.
It can be tough to get kids to eat oily fish because they are strong tasting! An effective method is to combine it with some less flavourful white fish such as cod and mash it up with potato and a little cheese to make a sort of fish pie.
If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet or can’t get your child to eat oily fish, it’s a good idea to contact your physician to see if it’s worth considering an Omega 3 supplement.
Oatmeal is rich in fibre and protein, essential for brain development and helps your child stay fuller for longer.
Fibre is crucial for developing children as it keeps the digestive system working as it should be, which means that your child can more easily absorb the nutrients in their food.
You can sweeten oatmeal with a bit of cinnamon to make it more flavorful! As a bonus, studies have shown that cinnamon may help improve memory and cognitive processing.
Apples are a great food to give babies, particularly when they are weaning, because it’s nice and sweet, so even fussy children will like it! Children can also enjoy the crunchy texture, especially when they are teething (as long as you are careful).
Apples are packed full of nutrients. For example, they are a source of Vitamin C, essential for the immune system and iron absorption. They also contain Folate (Vitamin B9), which helps cell growth, a necessary part of brain development.
Try stewing apples and adding them to oatmeal. You can make a batch of stewed apples by heating peeled and cored apples in a pan with some water until they are soft.
Once you have your batch of stewed apples, you can freeze it in individual portions in an ice cube tray, so you always have some ready to go.
Dark leafy greens
Dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach are full of nutrients that support the brain like Folate, Iron, Calcium and Vitamins E (a powerful antioxidant) and K (required for blood clotting).
It can be a little tough to get kids to eat them, though.
Try wilting spinach into scrambled eggs or whizzing up your greens into a smoothie with sweet fruits such as mango and pineapple to make them more appealing.