Brain Foods For Babies: 4 Key Nutrients That Can Boost Your Baby’s Brainpower
Created by Puja Sharma Vasisht Updated on Feb 27, 2019
Concerned about your baby’s or toddler’s brain development? As a parent, you must be wondering how you can raise a smart child. Did you know that the brain grows and develops largely in first three years? Well, if you relate to any of these, we would like to tell you that there are certain foods that help in your child’s brain development.
Studies suggest that these are critical and sensitive years for optimal brain development. So different nutrients like proteins, PUFA, iron and zinc are required not only for physical development of brain i.e is increase in number of brain cells but also for physiological and chemical functions, which affect the concentration and focus in the baby or a toddler
What are these nutrients?
1.Proteins: Protein is required for all basic and specific growth in our body and especially for the growth of brain cells. So any deficiency of protein would hamper your child’s optimal brain growth and development.
Protein in diet: Though milk is a good source of proteins, it alone cannot suffice for baby’s growth. Include eggs, flesh foods like fish, poultry, pulses, and beans for good supply of protein in your baby’s diet.
2. LC-PUFA: Long-chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids particularly DHA and AA affect cognition and attention in the child. Any deficiency of these can have a long term effect on your child’s cognition.
Diet to be given: Include fish like salmon, herring, tuna at least twice a week. Eggs can also be given thrice a week and especially DHA enriched eggs. Nuts like walnuts, seeds like flax, chia and hemp are the vegetarian source of these. So it is very important to introduce these in your child’s diet
3. Iron: There are many studies to support the role of iron in your child’s brain development. You should stress on including iron-rich foods in your child’s diet from the beginning to prevent any deficiency which may hamper optimal cognitive development.
Foods rich in iron: Dark green leafy vegetables, mutton, flesh foods, organ meats especially liver, dried beans like bengal gram, soy, lentils, rajmah, bajra, dalia, chirwa, jagegry, dates, raisins are some examples. Giving vitamin C rich foods like citrus fruits, amla and cooking in iron utensils helps in better absorption of iron.
4. Zinc: Along with iron, zinc is required for normal growth of brain cells. It’s deficiency in early childhood can lead to poor learning, attention and memory. Giving both zinc and iron in sufficient amounts helps in brain development.
Including zinc in diet: For zinc, include dried beans like kidney beans, moong, chickpeas, and whole grain cereals like brown rice, poha, dalia, millets. Nuts especially almonds and cashew. If non vegetarian then red meat, oysters, poultry.
It is thus important while weaning or introducing complementary foods, to include foods rich in nutrients required for your baby’s brain development. The emphasis should be on a balanced diet consisting of whole grains, beans, eggs, fish, flesh foods, dark green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts. If your baby’s diet is full of all of these, he/she will grow up to be happy and healthy!
| Mar 02, 2019