Do you know whatever you eat or drink during pregnancy supports your baby’s early development?
Do you know your diet during pregnancy is important for your baby’s cognitive development too?
Different tests and researchers have shown that neurons in a baby’s brain grow fast and maximum brain development occurs between 5-7 months. 60% of brain weight has fats in them at birth which are good for transmission of signals. That’s why it is vital for your little one to receive proper nourishment. The main thing is to start early as the brain development starts right from conception.
Let’s discuss stepwise to make this clear.
Folic acid is one of the most important micronutrients for your baby during pregnancy. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps to nourish your baby’s developing nervous system and thus critical to healthy cognitive development. Your doctor might recommend it even when you are trying to get pregnant.
Folic acid helps protect against certain birth defects too, including spinal cord and brain abnormalities. Do you know taking folic acid is also related to a decreased risk of premature birth?
Eating a healthy diet during pregnancy is important for both your health and your baby’s health. Good sources of folic acid:
- Fortified juices and cereals
As it is not possible to take the required amount only through food, your doctor recommends taking supplements. So, apart from a healthy diet, it’s important to take the recommended supplements. Now let’s go the next stage.
Whether you breastfeed or give formula milk to a newborn, it’s important to provide all the necessary nutrients and vitamins to help your precious one develop and grow.
Now it all depends on your baby’s condition at birth. If your baby is a preemie, has an allergy, or has colic, the feeding has to be planned accordingly. There are different kinds of formula milk which are available in the market.
My elder one was born little premature and we had to start formula for her as she was weak to latch on. I remember how difficult it was for me as a mom, but as recommended by my doctor, my aim at that time was to give her proper nourishment.
A baby’s brain development is really fast during the first two years of life. Good nutrition is critical at this time. One thing which helps in this development is DHA. It is a fatty acid which acts as a building block for a baby’s brain.
So if you are breastfeeding, you must take care of your nutrition. Your nutrition is important as it is related to your baby’s development. Moms who are breastfeeding should approximately have 400 – 500 extra calories a day.
Make healthy food choices and have foods that contain Vitamins A, B, and D. What to eat?
Foods like whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and protein-rich foods like eggs, beans, lean meat, and dairy. Water is important too, have a glass of water every time you breastfeed to stay hydrated. Avoid junk and spicy foods. Your doctor is going to advise you some vitamins during this phase too.
Now let’s go to the next stage of infancy and see how nutrition plays an important role there too.
As your baby grows and develops, he/she reaches new milestones. By milestones, I mean a lot of things which your child will be doing as he/she is more active now. These all depend on cognitive, motor, and social areas of the brain. Infant cognition depends on good nutrition. It is important for the baby’s feed IQ.
What is Feed IQ?
A baby’s brain development is based on the environment, genetics and nourishment she/he receives in utero and via breastfeeding. The right stimulation i.e. infant brain exercises also boost infant cognition. So when a mother takes care of what she eats, she is literally feeding IQ to her baby!
You can choose to breastfeed exclusively for first 6 months but after that, it’s recommended to start solids for the infant. 4-6 months you can introduce solids but at this time the babies can’t digest few things.
A trick to starting solid foods – if your child has doubled the birth weight, you can start solids. Take your time, don’t rush and introduce everything together. Give 3-4 days to each food item. The things which you can give –
- Pureed fruits like banana, apple, pear etc.
- Rice cereal
- Pureed vegetables like carrots, beets, sweet potato
The 1-3 years of age is a stage when you need to ensure they get good nutrition for their changing needs and tastes. The food items should have DHA and iron to support a growing brain.
This stage is little tricky as your baby might or might not like certain foods. Do not panic and keep trying. If your child is gaining weight and is active, do not worry too much. It’s true that growth is not as fast as the first year but nutrition should still be the priority as this is the time for a lot of cognitive development.
Your child has to meet many important milestones during this time like motor milestones, sensory milestones and communication milestones. I recently found a great article about different milestones and what to expect at each stage, read this here.
So, if you are someone who is planning to get pregnant, a pregnant woman or a new mom, the things we are discussing in this post are surely going to help you.
Being a mom is not about just passing genes to your child but a lot of other things. Your full identity changes when you are a mom and to make sure you are doing it right, start with a good nutritive diet for a good early development.
Disclaimer – This post is purely informational and is not meant to instruct. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.