This post was written by Dietician – Rosemary.
We all want to raise smart children who will do well in school and will be able to achieve all their dreams in life. But is there anything we can do to help with our baby’s IQ?
We know that nutrition plays a large role in brain development. You know what they say, you are what you eat… So if you are what you eat, what should you be eating for increased mental development?
It has been reported that in the first three years of life, your little one’s brain triples in weight and develops 1000 trillion nerve connections. With this fast growth we need to make sure they are getting the best possible nutrition.
Here are the top 5 foods which will help with mental development.
1. Breast milk
The number one thing you can do to help increase your little one’s IQ is to breastfeed!
Breast milk will always outrank formula in terms of health. So if you are able to breastfeed then take advantage of it. Breastfeeding consultants can really help with any breastfeeding problems you may have.
Breast milk is very high in fat, which helps with brain development. Breast milk’s composition changes during the duration of a feed. The fore milk has a tint of blue and is high in protein while the hind milk has more of a creamy colour and is rich is fat. Make sure your baby is receiving a good amount of hind milk.
Not only does it help to increase intelligence but it also provides your little one with a good immune system and a decreased risk all allergies. All in all breastfeeding has powerful long term benefits for your baby. This also includes a decreased risk of obesity in later years.
2. Oily Fish
Oily fish like salmon, trout, sardines, anchovies, herring and tuna all contain a good dose of omega 3. And the great thing about omega 3 is that it helps with brain development! Fats are really important and help the brain to grow. Fat should never be restricted in an infant’s or toddler’s diet.
DHA which is found in omega 3 fatty acids is one of the brain’s main building blocks. The intake of fish during lactation also helps to increase DHA in breast milk which is passed along.
Once your little one is eating don’t be scared to introduce fish into their diet. It is extremely good for them and parents must not avoid fish to avoid allergies.
Make fish for Sunday lunches or weekday dinners. Make tuna mayo toasted sandwiches or anchovies on toast for your baby. Be creative and start enjoying fish again! Get some great fish recipes here.
Eggs are wonderful! They are complete little bombs of healthy nutrition.
Eggs are filled with iron, B vitamins, omega 3, iodine and more to help with brain development. They also have the best amino acid combination out there and the protein in eggs is highly absorbable. Everything our baby needs!
Eggs are also loaded with choline which helps with mental development. We know that choline helps with lifelong memory function. (Don’t we all wish we had a better memory?)
Don’t get scared of allergies and don’t avoid eggs. It has been found by introducing them too late to your little one you could be increasing the risk of allergies.
An egg a day keeps the doctor away!
It is believed that humans started to develop large brains when they start catching animals for food. The protein and the fat on these animals helped they brains to develop.
Protein is needed for growing bodies and brains. Include protein through the intake of chicken, fish, eggs and red meat. If you are still breastfeeding, your breast milk is rich in protein as well.
Red meat is also filled with iron and B12 which helps with energies levels and mental stimulation and development. Babies have their own iron stored when they are born but this becomes depleted at about 6 months after birth. Breast milk is not rich in iron and therefore we need to make sure that iron is been eaten in the diet.
Do this by adding scrambled eggs or minced meat or fish to meals.
5. Leafy greens
Never under-estimate the importance of leafy greens! They are amazingly healthy and are budding with a whole lot of good vitamins and minerals.
Leafy greens are rich in folate, which we know is important during pregnancy. Read more about it here. But folate is needed for brain development after birth as well.
Folate is a B vitamin which is found in lettuce, kale and spinach. But it is not only limited to those foods. It can also be found in lentils, asparagus, broccoli and fruits such as oranges and mangoes.
Choose to add any of the above foods to your little one’s diet. Be creative or even hide it.
And there we go, five great foods to include in your baby’s diet to make them a budding genius.
Leave us a comment and let us know if your little one eats these foods.
Rosemary is a dietitian who loves everything related to food and nutrition. Want to learn more about nutrition? Visit her website: Slim and Trim Meals.