Brain development foods for 1 year baby
Baby brain food: 7 foods to fuel brain development
- Baby brain food: 7 foods to fuel brain development
By uclahealth • May 5, 2022
If you’ve ever spent time with a toddler, you probably know they learn quickly and absorb new information like a sponge. But brain development begins long before a child can walk and talk.
Brain cells multiply at an astonishing rate as a baby develops in the womb. The brain continues to grow during infancy as motor functions such as balance and coordination develop. During the toddler years (ages 1 to 3), the brain increases cognitive ability — how quickly a child can interpret and relay information to perform complex tasks.
During these periods of peak growth, nutrition plays an important role. For toddlers, not getting the right nutrients can have a detrimental impact on cognitive development — affecting memory, attention and academic ability later in life.Key nutrients for baby brain development
While all nutrients are important for brain growth and functioning, some play a bigger role in early brain development than others. The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition recommends certain nutrients for healthy brain development in toddlers:
- Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamins A, D, B6 and B12
No one food or “superfood” can ensure optimal brain development for toddlers. But some foods are packed with a variety of the necessary nutrients. Just be sure to monitor all new foods to ensure there’s no potential allergy.1. Eggs
Eggs are nutritious and typically a crowd-pleaser for young children. Brain-boosting nutrients in eggs include choline, vitamin B12 and protein. Choline is especially important for normal brain development and can improve cognitive functioning. Two whole eggs a day provide the choline that children age 8 and younger need.2. Seafood
Oily fish and other seafood provide a lot of bang for the buck when it comes to brain development —protein, zinc, iron, choline, iodine and omega-3 fats. But avoid feeding your toddler seafood that is high in mercury such as tuna and swordfish. Too much mercury can have harmful effects on a child’s developing nervous system. Instead, opt for low-mercury options such as shrimp, salmon, tilapia, crab or cod. Children under age 3 can have a 1-ounce serving two to three times a week.3. Leafy green vegetables
There’s a reason that parents try to hide extra leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, in their children’s smoothies and pasta sauce: They’re a great source of iron and folate. Research shows that children who get enough folate tend to have better cognition than kids who don’t get enough. Iron plays an important role in the development of the hippocampus — the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.4. Lean beef (or meat alternative)
Lean beef qualifies as brain food because it is an excellent source of zinc and iron. Iron is especially vital for young children because they are more likely to experience anemia (low iron levels). Nearly one in 10 American children age 3 and younger has an iron deficiency, which can contribute to learning difficulties and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Black bean or soy burgers work as great iron-containing burger substitutes.5. Yogurt
Unsweetened yogurt is an easy, kid-friendly way to support brain growth. It contains nutrients such as protein, zinc, choline and iodine. Children need iodine to produce thyroid hormones, which are vital to brain development and neurological processes. Even mild iodine deficiency may affect a child’s overall cognitive function and ability to reason.6. Nuts & seeds
Food such as nuts, seeds and nut butters make a protein- and zinc-packed snack. Protein contributes to healthy brain growth and the development of long-term memory. Zinc also plays an important role during the toddler years, when the brain is growing rapidly. Insufficient amounts of zinc may affect your child’s cognitive development, impairing their memory and ability to learn.
Whole nuts and seeds can be a choking hazard, so try adding water to small amounts of peanut butter, or giving peanut-flavored “puff” snacks instead. Just make sure to choose puffs made from real peanuts with no artificial flavoring.7. Beans
Beans offer several beneficial nutrients for a developing brain including zinc, protein, iron, folate and choline. Some types of beans, such as kidney, pinto and soybeans, also contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. For vegetarian children, the iron and protein in beans make them an excellent substitute for meat.
If you are concerned about your toddler’s diet or want more guidance about what your toddler should be eating, reach out to your child’s primary care physician.
Tags: brain development, cognitive health, healthy foods, infants, nutrients, peanuts, seafood, toddler diet, toddlers, vegetables, Wellness
10 Foods to Build Baby's Brain Development
Has the time come to transition your baby into the world of solids? (Raise your hand if you're feeling excited.) Each baby's first experience with solids is different—some babies take to their first foods right away, while others require some trial and error. Allow your baby to sample a variety of healthy and nutritious foods, and let patience—and nutrition—be your guide, especially to support that growing brain.
Remember to not start solids until your baby is 6 months old (not 4 months, as used to be the case), and always check in with your child's pediatrician before starting solids, in case there are any specific considerations for your little one. Once you get the go-ahead, focus on foods that are rich in nutrients that support your baby's healthy growth.
Creamy, mashed avocado is a popular first food. Avocado is a nutrient-dense fruit with plant-based fat, vitamins and minerals. Not only is it nutritious, as fats contribute to brain cell development, but the texture is soft and easy for baby to tolerate.
2. Greek yogurt
Whole-milk yogurt is a nutritious early food because it contains calcium, protein and healthy fats. The culturing process involved in making yogurt helps break down the proteins, making them easy for babies to digest, and incorporating fats into your baby's diet will help develop their brain cells. Plus, babies tend to like the rich, creamy texture of Greek yogurt. Because it contains cows' milk, some pediatricians recommend waiting to introduce yogurt between 9 and 10 months of age, so check with your child's doctor first.
Related: Everything you need for starting solids with your baby
Dark berries like blueberries are packed full of antioxidants, which protect the brain from stress and damage. You can offer blueberries mashed or blended into a smoothie, yogurt or oatmeal or as a finger food.
4. Whole grain porridge
Offering your baby a whole-grain cereal blend is a nutrient-rich option. Whole grains such as oatmeal, quinoa and barley should be pulverized and blended into a fine powder form and mixed with water or breast milk. You can also mix in a bit of yogurt or a fruit/vegetable blend. Whole grains offer fiber and a source of protein.
Egg yolks contain cholesterol, which is what comprises the outer lining of brain cells. In addition, they contain fat-soluble vitamins as well as choline, selenium and vitamin B12—all important for brain development.
Related: 5 ways to help your picky eater get the nutrition they need
6. Nut butters
Traditional nuts in their butter form are a good source of healthy fat, protein and fat-soluble vitamins. Peanut, cashew and almond butter are all options to offer your baby when you feel they're ready.
You could offer it as a small spoonful mixed into your baby's cereal or porridge blend, yogurt or even applesauce.
Note: According to recommendations from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, highly allergenic foods like nuts can be introduced into infants' diets as early as 6 months of age—and should be introduced early and often, as research shows this tactic can actually prevent the development of food allergies down the line.
These nutritious fruits contain quercetin, which helps stimulate brain activity. Apples, whether pureed, cooked soft or raw, are easy to offer as a first food and throughout your baby's transitional food stages. (Check out this great applesauce recipe!) As they become more comfortable with finger foods and as they develop teeth, you could offer apples with nut butter as a healthy pairing.
Lentils are available in various forms and are especially nutritious because they contain fiber, iron and protein. They're soft and easy to cook (no long soaking periods required) and can easily be blended into puree or soup form. They're also one of the more neutral-tasting legume and bean options to initially offer.
9. Leafy Greens
While these may be hard to offer initially as a single vegetable, they could be used as a blend so they're tolerated better. For example, you could blend spinach with apple or carrots, or make a spinach pesto to coat pasta once your little one is older. Because many leafy greens contain nitrates, some pediatricians recommended them as a later introduction at perhaps closer to 10 months onwards.
Leafy greens such as spinach or kale offer lutein and vitamin K, which contribute to brain activity.
Babies' growing brains require DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that is essential to cognitive development. Salmon is an excellent dietary source of DHA. You could mash some cooked, mix into a puree or even create a salmon burger or nuggets if finger foods are accepted.
A version of this post was originally published on Sept. 28. 2021. It has been updated.
Food for the mind: foods that improve brain function at different ages smarter even in old age. Of course, it is better to “feed” the brain correctly throughout life, starting from the prenatal period.
What does our brain need?
Although our brain is only the size of a small head of cauliflower, it is the most voracious part of the body. By weight, it makes up only 2.5% of our total weight, and absorbs up to 20% of the calories we consume. There are several types of important foods, the regular use of which throughout life improves brain function, provides it with high-quality raw materials for the formation of new cells, and thus preserves our intelligence, preventing mental decline. To satisfy the "brain" hunger, you need two types of food. Firstly, the fuel necessary for the daily work of brain cells and replenishing energy reserves. And, secondly, substances that would support his daily activities.
The following nutritional recommendations will help extend the life of our brain.
Before birth (fetal development)
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What the brain needs
Children today are often diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Scientists have found out how the quality of the food of a pregnant woman affects the development of this syndrome in an unborn child. In particular, they turned their attention to omega-3 fatty acids. One of the leading experts on ADHD, Dr. Alex Richardson of the University of Oxford, says that there is no specific treatment or diet for this type of disorder yet, but foods rich in omega-3s can help relieve symptoms and improve overall health. After all, in order for the 100 billion brain cells with which a child is born to develop, a sufficient supply of folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, iron and zinc is required.
What products contain it?
Bread, cereals, green vegetables, oranges or fruit juice are needed even during pregnancy, as these foods are rich in folic acid. Doctors also recommend that pregnant women take 0.8 mg of folic acid every day until the 12th week of pregnancy, and preferably at least 4 weeks before conception. Since some women require higher doses, it is best to discuss this with your doctor.
Oily fish such as sardines, tuna, salmon, mackerel are the best source of long chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA, DPA). And canola, flaxseed, and walnut oils provide us with ALA, another type of these fats.
Use iodized salt. Table salt is recommended for cooking pasta and vegetables, and sea salt can be added to ready-made dishes. Other sources of iodine are fish, dairy products, eggs, and baked goods with iodized salt.
Red meat is the most affordable source of iron. If you don't eat meat or fish, include plenty of legumes, fortified breads and cereals in your diet. For better absorption of iron from these foods, drink them with fruit juice, but not tea - it impairs the absorption of iron. Most of these products will also provide you with zinc.
Meat is a great option, but don't overdo the liver. It is an excellent source of iron, but it contains too much vitamin A. Too much of it can damage the brain development of the unborn baby. It is enough to eat liver dishes once a week. And be careful with fish oil supplements, they are also too high in vitamin A. Before taking them during pregnancy, check with your doctor.
Smoking and alcohol abuse are also dangerous for a child's brain development. During pregnancy, it is really important to give up bad habits.
Children under 3
- Getty Images/Blend Images
What the brain needs
By the time of birth, the brain of a child has about 100 billion cells, but it is only 15% developed. As they say, "the lights are on, but no one is home." The cells are already there, but there are no connections between them yet. The brain will be almost fully developed by the baby's third birthday, and in the first 3 years of life, impulses should begin to pass from one cell (neuron) to another. In order for the baby to develop properly, the process of connecting these brain cells must begin already in newborns. For this to happen, children need omega-3s, iron and zinc.
What products contain it?
Breastfeeding is the best food for young children as it provides them with everything they need during their growing season, including omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA.
Iron-rich foods are just as important, if not more so, for babies than they are for pregnant women. Babies are born with a supply of iron that lasts about 6 months. After that, they require dietary sources of iron. Meat purees should be introduced at the age of 6-7 months. Baby cereals, vegetables, beans and lentils also provide us with iron, as does fish, which can be introduced from about 8 months. Most of these products also contain zinc.
The use of these products during the first 3 years of life and beyond is very important so that the brain cells can work to their full potential. Do not rush to transfer a child from breast milk or infant formula to cow's milk, poor in iron - this may affect his health in the future.
But food for a child's brain is not only food. All the experience accumulated by a child in 3 years affects his ability to learn and behavior in the future. Children need a safe and comfortable home with a variety of intellectual stimulation options. Talk, read, sing and play with your children, let them feel that you love them.
By the way!
Food alone is not enough to improve brain function. Scientists recommend doing exercises for the brain - neurobics. The basic idea is simple: do the usual things in an unusual way, and you will not let the brain "wither". The more varied and non-standard tasks that you set for yourself, the better. In scientific terms, this is what will happen: new synapses-connections are formed between neurons, the cerebral cortex thickens and becomes more tortuous. In general, the brain is literally "pumped". Read more about neuroscience here.
- Getty Images/iStockphoto
What the brain needs
At this age, the brain processes a lot of new information every day. Proper nutrition has a positive impact on children's school performance. These conclusions were reached by researchers from Canada, who studied the diet of 5,200 honors students. Children whose diets were rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, dietary fiber, protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin C performed better in reading and writing than those whose diets were rich in saturated fat, salt, and "empty" carbohydrates . Previous research has shown that malnourished children were uncollected and did worse in school. Conclusion: in school years, the brain needs proteins, carbohydrates, omega-3s and various vitamins and minerals.
What products contain this?
Breakfast, heavy or not, gives the brain fuel to work. Toast, porridge, eggs, fruit or yogurt is a great start to the school day.
Any protein food, such as meat, fish, nuts, cheese or milk, makes the student attentive. It stimulates the feel-good hormone dopamine, helping him enjoy lessons he usually doesn't enjoy.
A peanut butter sandwich helps to transmit impulses from neuron to neuron as quickly as possible. If the student cannot tolerate peanuts, replace them with an egg, lean meat, or cheese.
Oily fish is important for both academic success and growth. Canned fish is suitable for sandwiches or rolls, which can be given to the child with him to school.
Try adding fruits and vegetables to every meal to ensure you get a full complement of brain-friendly vitamins and minerals. It's also a good solution for a healthy break snack. No proper food can replace a good night's sleep. At the lesson, at the stadium or at the exam, the child will be able to do much more if he gets enough sleep.
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What does the brain need?
About 2/3 of each brain cell consists of fats. To effectively send messages, its walls must be flexible, which depends on their content of omega-3. If there are too few of them, the cell walls become rigid, if there are too many, they become soft and sluggish. It all depends on the right amount. The ratio between omega-6 and omega-4 is also important as these two types of fat compete with each other. Omega-3s will be neutralized if they are dominated by omega-6s. Since we get a lot of omega-6 from food (from vegetable oils), it is recommended to eat more food containing omega-3, such as oily fish.
With over 40 years of experience, we want to think as clearly and quickly as possible. To perform at its best, the adult brain needs a continuous supply of energy throughout the day. Only starchy carbohydrates can provide this.
What products contain this?
Wherever you eat: at home, in the car or at work, breakfast is just as important for an adult as it is for a student. Eating only air, you will not be able to fully work.
If morning tea is part of your workflow, pair it with a fruitcake, a sausage roll, or a large biscuit from a local café.
Drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee and tea, are helpful throughout the day. The caffeine burst will help you in meetings and conferences, but keep in mind that it only peaks an hour after you've had coffee or tea.
Eat at regular intervals during the day, this will help you keep the fuel for the brain at the proper level. Find time for lunch. Keep an emergency supply on your desk in case you can't go to lunch. Canned fish, beans, fruit or rice pudding keep well, and crackers, nuts, or low-calorie granola bars will do as well.
Avoid chocolate or muffins in the middle of the day when energy levels are low. But don't give up sugar altogether. After lunch, take a walk around the office or get some air to stimulate the brain. If you weren't able to eat lunch, eat a sandwich or fruit for a long-term energy boost.
- Getty Images/Image Source
As we age, our brain becomes more like a sieve. Fails memory, reactions. It is more difficult for us to remember, even more difficult to remember, analyze, focus on the thought process. And this, in essence, is a natural phenomenon: our gray matter, like the whole body, is subject to the process of oxidation - the same one that corrodes metal with rust, or covers an overripe apple with brown spots. This is why as we age, more than ever, our brains need antioxidants and B vitamins, especially choline.
What products contain it?
The main allies in the fight against brain aging are antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. By the way, they also help to slow down oxidative processes throughout the body, moreover, without any plastic surgery. Include carrots, beets, broccoli, tomatoes, kiwi, blueberries, avocados in your diet. In addition, the “menu” of a mature brain must include nuts and seeds, cereals, butter and dark chocolate (necessarily of high quality). These products inhibit the oxidation of gray matter.
To get the vitamins of group B necessary for the normal functioning of the brain in old age, you need to eat various types of meat, citrus fruits, vegetables, grain bread. The most useful product for the brain of an aged person is an egg, a source of choline. It has been scientifically proven that people with Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia have a lower content in the body of such an important substance for the functioning of the brain as acetylcholine. You can prevent its decrease in the body by eating eggs, milk, liver and red cabbage. There are a number of studies proving that the so-called "Mediterranean diet" (fatty fish, fresh fruits and vegetables) is useful for older people to prevent the development of senile dementia.
Don't forget about the benefits of an active lifestyle in adulthood - no matter how good your diet is, but adequate exercise for the brain is also important.
10 products, beneficial for the brain at any age:
Fat fish, tuna, sardins, salmon
901 901 901 901 901 901 901 901 Nuts: hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews
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Red -haired cabbage
Anna Borisova, Svetlana Luboshits
Smart nutrition - Smart child - Aptaclub.ee memory, which have a beneficial effect on the general mental abilities of the child and his perception!
The child's brain develops most intensively before the age of 3 years. The same applies to the immune system. Therefore, in this age period (starting from 6 months, when complementary foods are added to mother's milk), parents should try to ensure that the baby receives the nutrition necessary for its development. Let's try to figure out which nutrients are important at this stage, what their functions are, and how they affect the physical and spiritual health of the baby.
Nutrition and its influence on the development and activity of the child's brain
While mommy feeds her baby with her milk, the baby receives all the necessary nutrients and vitamins, as well as substances that strengthen the immune system and contribute to the successful development and functioning of the baby's brain. But when the complementary feeding period begins, it is important to pay attention to whether the child is getting the necessary nutrients from food. It must also be understood that the child's menu is different from the adult's menu. A balanced diet with the right proportions of nutrients and vitamins is of great importance for a child to grow up not only physically strong, with a good immune system, but also have a stable nervous system, good memory and ability to concentrate. This will further affect school success and overall health.
Especially important iron - it is necessary for blood circulation, which, in turn, contributes to the development of the baby's brain and provides energy. It supplies tissues with oxygen, therefore it is involved in the formation of bone tissue, teeth and in the activity of the immune system. The more the body develops, the more iron it needs. It is best obtained from lean meats. Remember that calcium prevents the absorption of iron, but vitamin C enhances it. Therefore, foods containing iron are best eaten with fresh vegetables and fruits.
If the baby is given mashed vegetables, it is advisable to start with tender vegetables, such as zucchini, pumpkin, carrots, cauliflower, and then supplement the menu with other vegetables - broccoli (which is the richest source of iron), spinach, paprika, eggplant, etc. These vegetables are also powerful antioxidants that can repair damaged cells. Sources of iron also include lean meats and some legumes (beans, peas), which improve brain function. In the menu of a small child (from 8 months old), it is advisable to include, first of all, tender meat - rabbit, turkey, chicken or veal (if the child does not have intolerance or allergies). The meat is best boiled or stewed, and then chopped in a blender.
B vitamins - are involved in the development of the nervous system and the formation of protective sheaths of nerves. These vitamins are mainly involved in the work of the muscular and nervous systems, especially B12 and folic acid, which promotes cell repair. Therefore, B vitamins are an integral part of the child's growth process. They also contribute to the formation of red blood cells in the body and strengthen the immune system.
Dairy products are rich in proteins and B vitamins, which are important for the development and growth of brain tissue. Recommended foods are yogurt without additives, not too fatty sour cream, cheese, kefir (there is an opinion that cow's milk should not be given to a child under 3 years old, as it can cause an allergic reaction), as well as cereals. Vitamin B6 is found in all types of meat, as well as vegetables and fruits. For example, one banana contains most of the vitamin B6 needed throughout the day. Interestingly, the composition of the egg includes almost all B vitamins, unsaturated fatty acids, as well as the element choline, which improves memory. Less allergenic and more suitable in size for a small child will be quail eggs.
Carbohydrates - an essential part of them is glucose, which supplies the brain with energy resources. Within one minute, 100 g of the brain consumes up to 5 mg of glucose, the main substrate for respiration of brain tissues. It is interesting that, first of all, the energy of glucose is used precisely for the work of the brain, the rest of the functions in this case are secondary. Carbohydrates are an integral part of the blood, muscles, nerves and other tissues of the body. Therefore, an actively growing organism, especially in the first 3 years, they are especially necessary.
Carbohydrates are one of the most important nutrients in the first years of life, when the development of the baby is especially rapid. The richest source of carbohydrates are cereals (except for them, of course, fruits, berries and dairy products), since they provide the body, including the brain, with “fast” energy. Therefore, porridges from cereals are recommended, starting with rice, ending with porridges from other types of cereals. Important! You should find out if the baby has an allergic reaction to nutrients such as gluten (a protein found in grains of wheat, rye, barley and oats).
Fats - they form 60% of brain tissues. Fats are extremely important for the formation of the nervous system. Thanks to them, for example, nerve cells can grow. Fats are divided into saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Among the polyunsaturated fatty acids, the most important for nerve tissues are ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which contribute to the full development of nerve cells, retina, heart and brain and boost the immune system.
Due to the need of a rapidly growing body for energy, up to 3 years of age, a very large amount of fat should be included in the diet of a child. This is necessary so that the brain can develop normally, as well as for the good functioning of the hormonal system. The required amount of fatty acids can be obtained from oily marine fish, such as steamed (in a double boiler) salmon, since it contains the omega-3 acids that the body needs, which improve the cognitive function of the brain. It is also good to include white fish, such as cod fillet, in the diet of a small child. If a child refuses fish, it is worth considering the use of fish oil. It is desirable to supplement the diet with vegetable oils, for example, olive and rapeseed. It is worth remembering that the seeds of raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and strawberries are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and strawberries and blueberries can improve memory.
What else should be considered?
In order for the child's brain to receive all the necessary nutrients and develop normally, the child's menu must be appropriate for his age and state of health. Gradually including new products in the menu, care should be taken to ensure that the child does not develop allergic reactions, therefore it is necessary to control the content of salt and sugar in the child's food. Nutrition should be healthy, balanced, varied and, of course, tasty.
Often, allergic reactions in children do not come from any particular vegetable or fruit, but from the chemicals they are treated with. Therefore, it is recommended to choose, if possible, more environmentally friendly products, ideally grown on their own. Therefore, products that may contain preservatives, flavorings and colorings should be avoided.
Not only the food itself is important, but also the way it is cooked (steaming, boiling or frying). As you know, if processed incorrectly, if boiled or fried for too long, important nutrients disappear, and the food becomes of little value. A small child should take a large amount of fluid daily. It can be not only water, but also fresh fruit and vegetable juices, herbal teas, etc.
Consult your family doctor or paediatrician about the nutrition your child needs, given their age!
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