How much does a baby’s brain change in the first three years of life? According to Babycenter.com., your child's brain triples in weight and establishes about 1,000 trillion nerve connections!
So it’s no surprise that what a baby eats during this important growth period can have an effect on how important structures and connections in the brain develop.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued recommendations for foods that ensure healthy brain development in babies’ first 1,000 days.
In the guidelines, just published in the journal Pediatrics, the AAP’s Committee on Nutrition says that certain nutrients, including protein, zinc, iron, folate, certain vitamins and polyunsaturated fatty acids are critical for healthy brain development. Diets lacking these nutrients can lead to lifelong issues in brain function, they note.
Dr. Sarah Jane Schwarzenberg, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital and member of the AAP Committee on Nutrition, says that breast milk is recommended for newborns until they are about six months old.
After that, Schwarzenberg, says breast milk doesn’t deliver the amount of iron and zinc growing babies need. Moms that want to continue breastfeeding should introduce foods into baby’s diet that are rich these important minerals. Pureed meats are a good source as well as infant cereals enriched with these nutrients make excellent first foods.
As nursing wanes, the best diet for baby is one that includes a variety of foods, including meats rich in proteins and fruits and vegetables that contain different vitamins and minerals.
“Infants are very vulnerable in the first few months of life to [nutrient] deficiencies,” says Schwarzenberg. “Their brains are developing at a rapid pace between one and two years, so we want pediatricians to be recommending a healthy spectrum of foods and not simply telling parents to give their babies certain foods. We want to make a positive statement about providing lean meats and fruits and vegetables, and also push back on the idea of super-foods” No single food can provide babies with the variety of nutrients they need, she says.
Schwarzenberg notes that if your baby misses this opportune period for building a healthy brain, “there’s not a time to go back and revisit them.”
While it’s easier to feed babies their favorite foods, she says it’s important to make sure they’re eating a range of healthy foods. “We all have a tendency to pick one or two things the child likes and not stray too much from them,” says Schwarzenberg. “But if you are really looking to developing good brain health, then you really have to look at a variety of foods.”
Story source: Alice Park, http://time.com/5112519/baby-food-brain-health/