Foods that are good for baby brain development

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.

1. Avocado

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

3. Blueberries

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.

5. Eggs

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.

7. Apples

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.

8. Lentils

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.

10. Salmon

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.

Nutrition to Help Kids Stay Sharp

Written by Anne Krueger

As fast as children whiz from classroom to activity to home and back again, their brains are just as rapidly growing and changing.

The foods they eat are important. "These years are critical for brain development, and what they eat affects focus and cognitive skills," says psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, MD, co-author of The Happiness Diet and Fifty Shades of Kale.

These 7 foods can help kids stay sharp and affect how their brains develop well into the future.

1. Eggs

The protein and nutrients in eggs help kids concentrate, says Los Angeles-based chef Beth Saltz, RD.

How to Serve It: Fold scrambled eggs into a whole-grain tortilla for a filling breakfast or late-afternoon snack. "The protein-carb combo tides kids over until the next meal with no sugar-induced energy crash," Saltz says. You can also try serving egg salad sandwiches or a few deviled eggs.

2. Greek Yogurt

Fat is important to brain health, says Laura Lagano, RD. A full-fat Greek yogurt (which has more protein that other yogurts) can help keep brain cells in good form for sending and receiving information.

How to Serve It: Pack Greek yogurt in a lunch with some fun mix-ins: cereal with at least 3 grams of fiber, and blueberries for a dose of nutrients called polyphenols. Dark chocolate chips are another option. They have polyphenols, too. These nutrients are thought to keep the mind sharp by hiking blood flow to the brain.

3. Greens

Full of folate and vitamins, spinach and kale are linked to lower odds of getting dementia later in life. Kale is a super food, packed with antioxidants and other things that help new brain cells grow.

How to Serve It: For some kids, greens are a hard sell. So rather than serving a salad, you may want to try some different ideas:

  • Whip spinach or kale into smoothies for snack time.
  • Add spinach to omelets or lasagna.
  • Make kale chips. Cut kale from stems/ribs, drizzle with olive oil and a bit of salt, and bake.

4. Fish

Fish is a good source of vitamin D and omega-3s, which protect the brain from declining mental skills and memory loss. Salmon, tuna, and sardines are all rich in omega-3s.

"The more omega-3s we can get to the brain, the better it will function and the better kids will be able to focus," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, author of Read It Before You Eat It.

How to Serve It: Grill it and offer your child a sauce for dipping, add fish to tacos, or make tuna sandwiches.

5. Nuts and Seeds

Packed with protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, nuts and seeds may boost mood and keep your nervous system in check.

How to Serve It:

  • There’s always peanut butter, or you can also buy or make sunflower seed butter. Sunflower seeds are rich in folate, vitamin E, and selenium, and safe for nut-free zones. If you can’t get your kids to eat the seeds themselves, use the spread on whole-grain crackers or bread.
  • Make pesto: Nuts combined with olive oil and dark leafy greens make a healthful and tasty sauce you can serve over whole-grain pasta.

6. Oatmeal

Protein- and fiber-rich oatmeal helps keep heart and brain arteries clear. In one study, kids who ate sweetened oatmeal did better on memory-related school tasks than those who ate a sugary cereal.

How to Serve It: Add cinnamon. Compounds in the spice may protect brain cells, research shows.

7. Apples and Plums

Kids often crave sweets, especially when they're feeling sluggish. Apples and plums are lunchbox-friendly and contain quercetin, an antioxidant that may fight decline in mental skills.

How to Serve It: The good stuff is often in the skin of fruit, so buy organic, wash well, and put the fruit in a bowl for quick snacks.

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.

Fatty 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, take them with fruit juice, but not tea - it impairs the absorption of iron. Most of these products will also provide you with zinc.

Be careful!

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

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What the brain needs

At birth, a baby's brain 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. To ensure proper development of the baby, 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 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.


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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.

The elderly

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As we age, our brain becomes more like a sieve. Brings 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:


  • Cranberry

  • Fat fish, tuna, sardins, salmon

  • 901 901 901 901 901 901 901 901 Nuts: hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews

  • Claires and MURULY

  • Bread

  • Eggs

  • Red -haired cabbage

  • Yogurt

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Anna Borisova, Svetlana Lyuboshits

5 best foods for the development of the child's brain and memory

Our energy directly depends on what kind of lifestyle we lead and what we eat. It is clear that you will not feed your child with fast food, and if you do, it will not lead to anything good. The diet of any person, not just a child, should be as balanced as possible. Energy consumption should be approximately equal to its consumption. In simple words, we move more, lead an active lifestyle - then we need to consume more energy-rich foods.

Healthy baby - happy parents!

Most children, as a rule, have their own internal energy motors, so it is very important that their nutrition is as balanced and rational as possible.

Rational nutrition in this case is a diet that contains the correct ratio of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and all this in sufficient quantities.

Consider a list of foods that affect the mental activity of a child.

Top 5 foods that should be in the diet of every child


In the first place, of course, there will be nuts.

Why are nuts the real food for the mind?

Nuts contain a large amount of vitamins and minerals that are indispensable for mental stress, affect the growth and development of children, improve concentration and memory. These are polyunsaturated fatty acids, amino acids, B vitamins, calcium, zinc, iron, iodine.

Despite the fact that nuts are extremely healthy, they are strong allergens, so it is advisable to introduce children into the diet no earlier than 3 years and dosed, after grinding.


Vegetables and herbs should always be in the diet of any child.

What are the unique properties of spinach?

Spinach improves vision, normalizes digestion, strengthens the immune system, promotes the formation of bones and teeth. It also stimulates the brain due to lutein, which helps to better remember information. And this is not a complete list of its useful properties. Spinach can be given to children from the age of six months in the form of juice. Starting from the year you can give the leaves themselves.


Everyone knows that eggs are a easily digestible source of protein that strengthens bones and muscles.

However, not everyone knows that eggs contain choline , which has a beneficial effect on the functioning of the nervous system and regulates enzymes necessary for mental health.

Therefore, eggs are very useful for children. Just remember that, unlike the yolk, protein can be given to children from 1 year old so as not to cause allergies.


Tuna can be called the champion among fish in terms of the amount of nutrients it contains. It is very difficult to overestimate its merits. This fish contains a huge amount of trace elements (magnesium, iron, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, iodine and others), as well as a large amount of B vitamins, vitamins A, E, D. Tuna contains polyunsaturated fatty acids. This is a real treasure for our body.

Can children give tuna? You can! Start dating at 3 years old and with minimum servings of 50 grams.

What specific benefit does tuna have?

Tuna improves visual acuity, has a calming effect on the nervous and cardiovascular systems, activates the activity of the brain. It also contains iodine, which has a positive effect on the intellectual development of the child.


Yes, you didn't think it was chocolate. It can be given to children. Of course, it will not replace fruits, dried fruits and natural juices as a healthy treat, but when the child once again tries to beg you for a candy - buy him dark chocolate .

Chocolate contains serotonin, acting on certain areas of the brain, it increases mental abilities and forms interest in new knowledge.

Learn more