Did you know that you can boost your baby’s brain development by feeding him certain kinds of fat?
The most rapid brain growth occurs during pregnancy the first year of life. Your baby’s brain triples in size by his first birthday. During this critical stage in the development of his central nervous system growth, the brain will use as much as 60% of the total calories that your baby eats. Here in this article you will find parenting tips on how to fuel this physical growth, including two easy recipes!
Why your baby needs fats
The brain itself is 60% fat. Research shows that fats are major components of the brain cell membrane and the myelin sheath around each nerve. Getting enough fat and the right kinds of fat greatly affects brain development and performance. In fact, during the first year, around 50% of an infant’s daily calories come from fat. Mother Nature knows how important fat is for babies, providing some 50% of the calories as fat in mother’s milk.
What kind of fats your baby needs
It’s not only the amount of fat that’s important, but also the type of fat. Different species provide different types of fat in their milk, fine-tuned to the needs of that particular animal. For example, mother cows produce milk that is high in saturated fats so their calves grow rapidly—though it may not do much for their brains. After all, cows have relatively small brains and don’t to do a lot of thinking to survive.
Human babies’ brains grows faster than the body. That’s why our breastmilk is low in body-building saturated fats and rich in brain-building fats, such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega 3 fatty acid.
How to increase the ‘good fat’ in breastmilk
Breastmilk is the best source of fats for your baby’s brain. It will supply your baby with brain-building DHA. You can also boost your DHA levels by taking fish that are high in omega-3, or taking a supplementary milk or vitamin that is enriched with DHA.
How to increase the ‘good fat’ in your baby’s meals
Here are healthy baby food recipes you can do at home. Consult with your baby’s pediatrician before including these recipes, or anything new, to your baby’s diet. Also remember the four-day rule: offer your baby the new food for four days to test for allergies. And never introduce more than one new food at a time.
One of the best first foods is avocado mash. Avocado is rich in Vitamins: A, C, Niacin and Folate, and body and brain building minerals like Potassium, Phosphorous, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium. All you need to do is mash the avocado meat (don’t cook it—just like bananas, avocados have a naturally soft consistency and texture). Choose an avocado that is dark green and has bumpy skin. The flesh should be green, gradually turning yellow around the pit.
You can also give older babies a healthy ‘smoothie.’ Combine milk, yoghurt, a cup of frozen fruits (like strawberries, blueberries, mango or papaya). Mash together and serve in spoonfuls or freeze into a popsicle. Your baby may even enjoy sucking it when he teethes!
Your baby’s brain begins developing in the first trimester! Find out how to give him a good start with other parenting tips in o5.com, such as the essential nutrients during pregnancy. You can also stimulate his brain in utero, with this article on ways to teach your baby while inside the womb.
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