Pregnancy foods for baby brain development
9 Foods To Boost Your Baby's Brain Development During Pregnancy – feedmomandme
Written by: Co-Founder Amanda Capriglione, RDN, CDN
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Nicole Palmer, DO
In this article
Every parent naturally wants their baby to be healthy and grow up to be smart. Scientific research suggests that your diet during pregnancy can help boost fetal brain development. Optimal nutrient intake will not only have you flourishing but also your growing baby. We will be discussing the nutrients and foods that help boost a baby’s brain development while pregnant.
1. TAKE YOUR DAILY PRENATAL VITAMIN
Taking a daily complete prenatal plus DHA multivitamin will help you get those extra nutrients you may not be getting in your everyday diet. Look for a prenatal with DHA and Choline, both essential for baby’s brain development. We recommend taking Feed Mom & Me Complete Prenatal + DHA Multivitamin.
Vitamins supplements are meant to supplement your well-rounded diet regimen. They help enhance your intake of nutrients and vitamins along with your everyday food intake. Vitamin supplements aren’t meant to be used in place of real food.
For more information on prenatal vitamins, please check out our Benefits of Feed Mom & Me Complete Prenatal with DHA Multivitamin Blog. To purchase our Prenatal Vitamins, click here! You got this mama, you and your little one are going to thrive!2. OMEGA 3, LIKE DHA
Active forms of omega-3 fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which are vitally important for your developing baby’s brain & retina during pregnancy. DHA is the critical component of the cell membrane in the brain, eyes, and nervous system. It also supports the development of the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brain stem.
The fetal’s brain growth accelerates during your second trimester and continues growth for several years after birth. During pregnancy and lactation, it is recommended women’s daily intake of at least 200 mg of DHA. Both DHA and EPA are primarily derived from seafood and algae. Consuming 1 to 2 servings of seafood per week and a daily prenatal with DHA will help with your omega-3 intake.BEST FOODS RICH IN OMEGA 3 (DHA) FOR PREGNANT WOMEN:
- Fish such as Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna, Herring, and Sardines. (No more than 12 ounces per week)
- Fortified Eggs
- Flax and Chia Seeds
★ A good prenatal vitamin with natural DHA will smell a little fishy.
Read more on DHA in our blog, All You Need To Know About Prenatal Vitamins And DHA.3. CHOLINE
Choline is vital for the proper development of your baby’s brain and spinal cord. It also helps form the neurotransmitters in the brain, which the nervous system uses to transmit messages between neurons, and/or neurons to muscles. It also influences lifelong memory functions for your developing baby.
BEST FOODS RICH IN CHOLINE FOR PREGNANT WOMEN:
Read more on choline in our blog, Choline during pregnancy.4. VITAMIN B COMPLEX
Vitamin B complex plays a critical role during pregnancy for your developing baby’s brain. They help aid the production of numerous aspects of brain function, including energy production, DNA/RNA synthesis/repair, genomic and non-genomic methylation, and the synthesis of numerous neurochemicals and signaling molecules. They can also be considered a potent antioxidant capable of protecting the brain’s cellular membranes.BEST FOODS RICH IN VITAMIN B COMPLEX FOR PREGNANT WOMEN:
- Poultry, Lean Beef, and Meat.
- Fish such as Tuna and Salmon. (No more than 12 ounces per week)
- Dairy Products such as Eggs, Milk, Yogurt
- Nuts and Seeds such as Peanuts, Sunflower Seeds, Hazelnuts, Pistachios, Cashew Nuts
- Legumes such as Chickpeas, Black-Eyed peas, and Kidney Beans
- Whole Grains such as Whole Wheat, Brown Rice, and Oats.
- Enriched and Fortified Foods such as many Breads and Cereals.
- Vegetables such as Mushrooms (especially shiitakes), Avocados, Potatoes, Asparagus, and Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli.
- Leafy Vegetables such as Spinach and Mustard Greens.
- Fruits such as Papaya, Oranges, and Banana.
- Dried fruits such as Apricots and Prunes.
Antioxidants protect your developing baby’s brain tissues and cellular membranes from damage and free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage cells. Produce contains the most amounts of antioxidants that are good for you and your baby. Try to consume seven servings of well-washed fruits and vegetables daily.BEST FOODS RICH IN ANTIOXIDANTS FOR PREGNANT WOMEN:
- Dark Chocolate
- Berries such as Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, and Goji Berries
- Vegetables such as Artichokes, Broccoli, Asparagus, and Squash
- Leafy Vegetables such as Kale, Spinach, Cabbage, Lettuce, Collard Greens
- Root Vegetables such as Carrots, Beets, Radish
- Legumes such as Beans and Peas
★ Dark-colored produce often has more antioxidants.6. IRON
Iron is one of the critical nutrients in developing a healthy baby. It helps your body produce hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen through your red blood cells, delivering life-sustaining oxygen to your baby. Oxygen helps flourish your developing baby’s brain growth. Make sure you stay hydrated when consuming iron to help avoid constipation. Check out our blog on the Top 15 Foods to Help Naturally Relieve Pregnancy Constipation.BEST FOODS RICH IN IRON FOR PREGNANT WOMEN:
- Lean Meat, and Poultry.
- Iron-fortified Breakfast Cereals and Breads.
- Legumes such as White Beans, Lentils, Spinach, Kidney Beans, Peas, and Edamame.
- Dried Fruits such as Raisins, Apricots, Peaches, and Prunes.
- Leafy Greens such as Spinach, Kale, Broccoli, and Collards Greens.
Read more on iron in our blog, Iron during pregnancy.7. PROTEIN
Every cell in your body requires protein’s numerous amino acids to help your body make new cells and repair cells. Research has shown that proteins are essential for the function of brain cells and the development of your baby’s brain.BEST FOODS RICH IN PROTEIN FOR PREGNANT WOMEN:
- Fish such as Salmon & Shrimp
- Dairy such as Eggs, Milk
- Legumes such as Beans, Lentils, Split Peas.
- Nuts & Seed such as Peanuts, Walnuts, Cashews, Pistachios, and almonds
- Whole grains
Your thyroid needs iodine to produce triiodothyronine & thyroxine hormones in both your developing baby and you during pregnancy. Iodine plays a crucial role in aiding the formation of your growing baby’s cerebral cortex and neocortex, visual and auditory cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum. The fetal thyroid is not fully active up until the 20th week of pregnancy; therefore, your baby is entirely dependent on maternal thyroxine supply.BEST FOODS RICH IN IODINE FOR PREGNANT WOMEN:
- Seafood & Fish such as Cod, Tuna, Seaweed, and Shrimp.
- Dairy products such as Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese.
- Iodized salt
Read more on iodine in our blog, The importance of iodine during pregnancy.9. ZINC
Zinc is a key micronutrient that helps with the rapid growth and development of cells and tissue. Aiding the development of the brain's hippocampal and cerebellar. Making it essential for your baby’s brain development.BEST FOODS RICH IN ZINC FOR PREGNANT WOMEN:
Foods to Eat During Pregnancy to Make Baby Smart
Foetal brain development usually starts after 28 days of conception when the neural tube is formed. During this time, the mother must intake adequate amounts of nutrients because what a mother eats during pregnancy has a major impact on a baby's brain development inside the womb and the cognitive responses of the child at a later stage in life.
This blog will tell you about the 15 most important foods to eat during pregnancy to make the baby smart.
Foods to Eat During Pregnancy to Make Baby Smart
The two most important nutrients that play a significant role in brain development are folate and choline. They help prevent neural tube defects. Other essential nutrients include iodine, iron, protein, and vitamin D.
The following are some of the most popular foods to eat during pregnancy to make the baby smart.
Having eggs during pregnancy or breastfeeding helps enhance brain development, making the baby smarter. Research suggests that eggs contain nutrients that the body can easily absorb. Eggs are a rich source of choline, fatty acids, essential vitamins and minerals, and bioactive compounds that enhance foetal brain development. Pregnant women can have 2 hard-boiled eggs each day.Book an online consultation with India's best Nutritionist/Dietician for FREE to know more about what you should eat & what you shouldn't during pregnancy.
Having meat during pregnancy also helps boost brain development in babies. Research suggests that meat is rich in iron, zinc, and vitamin B12, which are essential nutrients for brain development. Zinc forms a part of the DNA and acts as a neurotransmitter. Its deficiency can lead to reduced memory in babies. Vitamin B12 is also beneficial for the psychiatric health of babies. Meat also contains niacin, a compound that improves cognitive function.
Banana is another most important foot brain development during pregnancy because it is rich in folic acid.
4. Dairy products
Milk and other dairy products like yoghurt and cheese are essential foods during pregnancy. Research suggests that milk and dairy products are rich in iodine and protein sources necessary for foetal brain development. Milk also contains choline that helps make your baby smarter. Research suggests that iodine deficiency during pregnancy can cause damage to the brain of the foetus. Children of mothers who had iodine deficiency in pregnancy are prone to neurological disabilities.
Another iron and folate-rich food that can enhance foetal brain development is spinach. According to research, spinach contains folic acid, which is beneficial in making babies smarter. Spinach also contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. According to research, omega 3-fatty acids and iron improve cognitive ability in children.
Eating fish like salmon and tuna is also good for developing a baby's brain as they are a rich source of choline. Fish also contain good amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. According to research, docosahexaenoic fatty acid (DHA), a type of omega-3 acid, is essential for the fetus's neurodevelopment. DHA is also responsible for the structural and functional development of the fetus's brain. Pregnant women should eat properly cooked fish only.
Legumes like kidney beans, soybean, chickpea, and peanuts are also rich sources of iron, antioxidants, and folate that help make your baby smarter. Legumes are also rich protein sources, which is again beneficial for your baby's brain. Research suggests that a low protein diet by a mother during pregnancy can lead to a short-term memory of the child.Book an online consultation with India's best Nutritionist/Dietician for FREE to know more about what you should eat & what you shouldn't during pregnancy.
Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are considered superfoods as they are rich in antioxidants and various other essential nutrients like folate and vitamin B6. Therefore, they are beneficial to the brain development of the baby.
9. Whole-grain Foods
Oats, brown rice, whole wheat, and other whole-grain foods are rich in protein, iron, and vitamin B6, which are good for brain development.
Minerals like selenium, copper, magnesium and vitamins C and E are essential during pregnancy. According to research, deficiency of these minerals in the body during pregnancy can harm the development of the foetus. Studies show that insufficient amounts of vitamin C in the diet can have a negative effect on cognitive performance. As oranges are a rich source of vitamin C, they are beneficial for your baby's brain development.
Tomatoes, being a rich source of antioxidants like vitamin C and E, choline, folate, and magnesium, is good for the fetus's brain development. Therefore, it helps your baby to be smart.
12. Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, and kale are rich in bioactive compounds that improve cognitive abilities. Therefore, you must add green leafy vegetables to your diet during pregnancy.
These are excellent sources of antioxidants like copper, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. So, eating eggplants during pregnancy can help make your baby smart.Book an online consultation with India's best Nutritionist/Dietician for FREE to know more about what you should eat & what you shouldn't during pregnancy.
This is another healthy food that you can eat during pregnancy for your baby's brain development. Avocados are a rich source of vitamin B and C. They also contain essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, and folate.
15. Nuts and Seeds
Walnuts, pistachios, sunflower, flax, chia, and pumpkin seeds are all rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids beneficial for the baby's brain development during pregnancy.
16. Dark Chocolate
As per research, dark chocolate is an excellent source of iron, copper, magnesium, and zinc that promote foetal brain development during pregnancy. You can have 1-2 pieces of dark chocolate daily. However, you should avoid eating dark chocolate in excess because it contains caffeine which can be harmful to the baby.
Best Food for Baby Brain Development During Pregnancy
The best foods for baby brain development during pregnancy are the ones rich in choline, folate, iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids like DHA, protein, and vitamin B12. The most popular foods that contain these essential nutrients include eggs, fish like salmon and tuna, red meat, milk and dairy products, spinach and other green leafy vegetables, nuts like almonds, walnuts, and peanuts, pumpkin, flax and chia seeds, whole grain foods like oats and brown rice, berries, carrots, and more.Book an online consultation with India's best Nutritionist/Dietician for FREE to know more about what you should eat & what you shouldn't during pregnancy.
What to Do During Pregnancy to Have an Intelligent Baby?
Having a healthy and smart baby depends on several factors like genes, mother's nutrition during pregnancy, mother's health, and more. Here are a few things that you can do during pregnancy to have an intelligent baby:
According to research, exercising during pregnancy positively impacts a baby's brain development.
2. Read stories to your baby
Your baby can listen to you in the last trimester of your pregnancy. Reading stories to your baby or talking to them can enhance brain development and help you bond better with your baby.
3. Listen to music
You can listen to soft music. According to UNICEF, listening to music during pregnancy positively influences the baby.
Tips and Precautions
Here are a few tips and precautions that you must keep in mind for your baby's development during pregnancy:
- Consult your doctor frequently.
- Eat balanced meals and take plenty of rest.
- Keep yourself hydrated.
- You can also consult your doctor if it is safe to do yoga, light exercises, or meditation.
The following are the things that you must avoid during the pregnancy or breastfeeding period for your baby's proper brain development:
- Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco can pass on nicotine and carbon dioxide to the baby. It can cause nerve damage and should be avoided.
- Drinking alcohol should be avoided as it can damage the baby's nervous system.
- Avoid having too many caffeine drinks like coffee, green tea, black tea, and soft drinks because they can cause complications in pregnancy.
- Avoid raw foods and unpasteurised milk or cheese as they can cause bacterial infections.
- Uncooked or raw eggs, fish, and meat should also be avoided.
- If you have a cat at home, you should avoid cleaning the litter box as it can cause an infection called toxoplasmosis, which is harmful to the baby.
- You should also avoid heavy exercise.
- Avoid having over the counter medicines without a doctor's consultation.
Summing Up on Foods to Eat During Pregnancy to Make Baby Smart
If you want a smart baby, it is vital to focus on your diet throughout the pregnancy. Nutrients like choline, folate, iodine, iron, and vitamin D are essential for your baby's proper brain development. Therefore, you should have foods rich in these nutrients during pregnancy. The most nutritious foods to eat during pregnancy to make the baby smart include eggs, milk and dairy products, legumes, berries, meat, and green leafy vegetables.
In Which Month of Pregnancy Does Baby’s Brain Develop?
A baby's brain development begins in the first trimester, usually from the third week of pregnancy, during which the nerve connections start forming. When you reach the second trimester, the brain tissues are formed, whereas, in the last trimester, the cerebral cortex (the left and right brain hemispheres) is formed.
Which Fruit Gives Colour to a Baby During Pregnancy?
The skin colour of the baby is based on genes. However, foods rich in vitamin C like avocado, orange, blueberries, strawberries, and coconut water are believed to give colour to the baby during pregnancy.
Which Area of the Brain Is Well Developed at Birth?
At the time of birth of a child, the five major parts of the brain - cerebrum (responsible for memory and thinking), cerebellum (important for body movement), brain stem (controls involuntary functions like breathing), pituitary gland (releases growth and other hormones), and hypothalamus (regulates sleep, hunger, and thirst) are well-formed.
How Do I Know if My Baby Is Intelligent?
You can notice a few signs to confirm that your baby is intelligent. If the baby learns to walk, speak, or eat earlier than other babies at his age, if the baby has a good attention span, is extremely curious and loves to solve problems like trying unique ways to get snacks kept out of their reach, there are high chances that your baby is intelligent.
- Hiten D. Mistry, September 2011; The Importance of Antioxidant Micronutrients in Pregnancy - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3171895/
- Eamon Fitzgerald, November 2020; Maternal influences on fetal brain development: The role of nutrition, infection and stress, and the potential for intergenerational consequences - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378378220306514
- The Importance of Iodine in Prenatal Brain Development - https://www.usdairy.com/getmedia/32a32c4a-5e31-4f35-80c3-2c64e68dde49/NDC-Iodine-Prenatal-Handout-FINAL.pdf?ext=.pdf
- Loise wang'ondu, September 2017; Improving maternal and infant nutrition to enhance fetal brain development and reduce the risk of brain injury during childhood-a randomized control study - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304175630
- Chessa K. Lutter, October 2018; The potential of a simple egg to improve maternal and child nutrition - https://www. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6865885/
- Ayfer Dayi, September 2016; Maternal Aerobic Exercise during Pregnancy Can Increase Spatial Learning by Affecting Leptin Expression on Offspring's Early and Late Period in Life Depending on Gender - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3458263/
- How music affects your baby’s brain: Mini Parenting Master Class - https://www.unicef.org/parenting/child-development/how-music-affects-your-babys-brain-class
Top 15 Pregnancy Products | PHARMACY
According to a recent study published in Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies, women are more likely to have premature babies if they eat the wrong diet during pregnancy.
Listed below are 15 foods scientists believe will help promote normal fetal development and maternal health during pregnancy.
Eggs are a universal source of nutrition, as they contain a lot of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, etc. Eggs contribute to the development of the brain, the formation of the organ of vision and the muscular system.
Calcium is one of the key elements of the pregnant diet, and its best source is dairy products. In addition to calcium, these foods are rich in vitamins A and D, phosphorus, and protein.
Avocados are rich in folic acid, which prevents the development of the neural tube of the fetus. Vitamin C, which is found in avocados, stimulates the development of a healthy immune system. Avocados can also help fight morning sickness and fill you up with healthy fats.
Although most people tend to try to limit the amount of salt they consume, sea salt has one very important element for the proper development of the fetus - iodine. Sea salt is one of the best ways to add this important nutrient to your pregnancy diet.
Edamame are boiled or steamed soybeans. This product is considered an excellent substitute for beans, which cause flatulence, especially in pregnant women. Edamame is an excellent source of protein, folic acid, vitamins A and B, and calcium.
Fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are very important for fetal development. It is necessary to pay attention to where the fish comes from and its quality, because some types of fish may contain trace residues of mercury and other harmful compounds.
Vitamin A is an essential part of the pregnant diet as it contributes to the normal formation of the baby's skin, eyes, teeth and bones. Carrots also contain B vitamins and vitamin C, which are important for the fetus and mother. Due to the high fiber content, carrots stimulate intestinal motility, which helps to cope with constipation.
Although yogurt technically falls under the category of dairy products, it has some unique characteristics that make it a stand-alone item. Natural yogurt contains folic acid, vitamin D and prebiotics that are important for the stomach. The latter contribute to the normal absorption of nutrients in the stomach, improve the microflora and ensure the effective absorption of vitamins and minerals necessary for mother and child.
This delicious exotic fruit is an excellent source of potassium, vitamins A and C, which stimulate the development of the fetus and boost the immune system during pregnancy. In addition, mango fruits are good for reducing the severity of morning sickness.
Oatmeal and other grains are rich in minerals such as iron and copper and are a good source of fiber. Fiber helps to strengthen the cardiovascular system, and also regulates bowel function, eliminating cramps, nausea and other gastrointestinal problems that so often annoy pregnant women.
Popcorn, when not loaded with salt and oil, is a source of fiber, vitamin E, selenium, and other antioxidant compounds that will promote healthy growth and development of the fetus.
Often during pregnancy, a woman constantly experiences a feeling of hunger. Nuts are an excellent snack, rich in magnesium, iron, copper, selenium and zinc, which play an important role in maintaining the mineral balance of the fetus and mother. Omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts, almonds, and pistachios are also important for a child's brain development.
Spinach is rich in important prenatal nutrients, including calcium, vitamins A and C, fiber, iron and folic acid, as well as a range of antioxidants that may protect your baby from developing any disease. A high iron content is especially important for the mother, as anemia is a common problem during pregnancy and immediately after childbirth. In addition, iron is important for the formation of a child's red blood cells.
Lentils are one of the richest foods in folic acid. In addition, lentils also contain high levels of fiber and iron.
Chicken and other lean meats are essential for a child's development. However, you need to make sure the quality of this protein and avoid overly processed meat, because it can contain harmful substances and bacteria that are absolutely not needed, especially during pregnancy.
Based on www.organicfacts.net
Top 10 Pregnancy Foods
A cup of yogurt contains more calcium than a cup of milk. The active cultures in yogurt (the "good" bacteria) can prevent mommy-to-be's stomach upset as well as yeast infections. Use yogurt as an alternative to sour cream, butter, mayonnaise - it is light and very healthy. Drink on its own or mix with breakfast cereals.
Read also: Cooking healthy homemade yogurt
Rich in fibre, B vitamins, iron and a host of other minerals. A great independent breakfast or a healthy addition to baking!
Provides a very essential nutrient for pregnancy, i.e. folic acid (vital for the formation of the baby's brain and nervous system), potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6 (which is not only involved in the formation of baby tissue and brain growth , but it can also help mommy cope with morning sickness).
Avocados are a delicious way to get vitamins. A ripe avocado is a great alternative to mayonnaise. Keep in mind that avocados are high in fat and calories, so don't overdo it.
America's favorite cabbage. And for good reason, the vegetable contains C, calcium (a bone builder), as well as a sufficient amount of folic acid. Broccoli is perfect for almost any dish or will be the filling of a delicious casserole.
See how to make creamy broccoli soup:
Carrots contain vitamin A in quantities that do not harm the fetus. Although vitamin A in large quantities is a threat to the baby, it is necessary - it is very important for the development of the child's bones, teeth and eyes. It's perfect for chewing on the go, even when raw.
This low calorie food is high in protein. And it is necessary and indispensable for the development of the brain in the fetus.