The Importance of Nutrition in a Baby’s Intelligence
December 16, 2008 by SmarterBaby
It’s a no-brainer: your baby’s body—from her head to her toes—is fueled by the food you put in it. Give her brain development a head start by offering the kind of healthy foods she needs to get and stay smart.
Facts: In the first few months of life, your baby will subsist on milk, be it breast milk or formula. So giving him the most nutritious milk available is key. If you’re breast-feeding, make sure your diet is rich in proteins (for example, lean meats, milk and eggs), essential fatty acids (like omega-3s, found in salmon and fortified eggs), iron (good sources are meats and iron-fortified cereals) and carbohydrates, like whole grains. If you’re formula-feeding your baby, choose an iron-fortified one. Once he’s on solid foods, look for iron-fortified baby cereals and baby foods with pureed meats, vegetables and fruits. Low-iron diets in kids have been associated with slower learning.
Time Frame: Most of your baby’s brain development takes place in the first 3 years of her life. While good nutrition will be important her whole life, the early years are an especially critical time.
Theories/Speculation: In terms of nutritional value, breast milk is considered optimal to formula. Breast milk naturally contains the essential fatty acids DHA and ARA—important for brain development. In one study published in the “Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Maternal,” children breast-fed for 8 months or longer scored 6 points higher on verbal IQ tests than those who weren’t breast-fed.
Misconceptions: While you may prefer to feed your baby organic baby foods to reduce his exposure to pesticides and chemical additives, be aware that the American Academy of Pediatrics has not found organic baby food to be better for babies than regular baby food.
http://www.pregnancyandbaby.com: She Knows: Pregnancy and Baby for more information on nutrition and its relationship to intelligence
http://www.cfsan.fda.gov: Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Donna Christiano is an award-winning free-lance journalist who has written extensively on women’s and children’s health for many consumer magazines, including Woman’s Day, Parents, Weight Watchers and others. Donna has also served on the staffs of Glamour and Bride’s magazines. She tries to live a healthy and strong life in New Jersey with her husband and two children.