Did you know that the food your child eats has a big influence on his intelligence and behaviour? What your child eats, especially during the first three years of his life is critical for his brain development. In the first few years of their life they learn how to think, react and become independent. Activities like playing, exploring, running around contribute to the development of rapidly growing and changing brain. Providing the right nutrients will not only aid the development of the baby’s brain, but also helps them focus and supply the necessary energy for their day to day activities. The following food has been proved to boost your baby’s brain development.
1. Fish - Fish is a good source of vitamin D and omega - 3 fatty acids. Omega - 3 fatty acids help in the efficient functioning of the brain and lessens attention deficits. Fishes like salmon, tuna and mackerel are an excellent source omega - 3 fatty acids
- Serving options - You can make grilled or toasted fish, fish gravy, fish cutlets. You can also use cooked fish in salads and sandwiches.
2. Broccoli and Cauliflower - Broccoli and cauliflower are a good source of choline and antioxidants. It helps in improving learning and memory. It also reduces the brain’s vulnerability to toxins during childhood.
- Serving options - Broccoli and cauliflower can be served in gravies, salads, pulao or as manchurians. You can also stir fry it with salt and pepper.
3. Nuts - Nuts like almonds, peanuts, walnuts, cashews are rich in healthy fats that are essential for the growth and brain development of children. Packed with vitamins and minerals they also enhance the memory and learning.
- Serving options - Prepare or buy health mix powders(powdered nuts) and can be served as porridges or mixed in milk. Almond milk, peanut butter, chikkis are other options.
4. Berries - Berries like strawberries and blueberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. They help improve memory and attention in kids. The antioxidants prevents the stress on brain function and protects against brain ageing.
- Serving options - You can make smoothies or shakes that most kids are fond of. You can also use berries while baking a muffin or other cakes.
5. Spinach - Spinach and greens are very rich in vitamins, iron and folic acid. It helps in memory, learning and attention. Since they are rich in fiber content and folic acid, they help in the growth of new brain cells
- Serving options - Add spinach to omelettes, sambhar and other gravies. You can also use them salads and whip them into smoothies. You can also add them in yogurt and cereals.
6. Eggs - Eggs are well-known for their rich source of protein and nutrients. The egg yolk contains choline that helps in the memory development. The protein and nutrients in the egg help kids to concentrate and focus.
- Serving options - Hard boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, omelette, egg sandwiches
7. Milk and yogurt - Dairy foods are packed with protein and vitamins that are very essential for the growth of brain tissues. Proteins and carbohydrates present also provides the necessary energy for the brain.
- Serving options - If your baby is not a milk lover, you can use milk in place of water when making oatmeal, fruit juice or pudding.
8. Vegetables - Vegetable with rich and deep colours are rich in antioxidants that keeps the brain cells healthy. Some of these vegetables are carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, spinach.
- Serving options - Carrot kheer, pumpkin muffins, potato wedges, soups, stir fries, salads are some of the options.
9. Oats - Oats are rich in protien, fibre and energy. It also contains vitamins and minerals that are essential for the functioning of brain. Since oats has high fibre content, it digests slowly and provides the necessary energy for the kids.
- Serving options - You can cook the oats with milk and top it with cut fruits and nuts. Oats upma, oats idli, banana oats muffin are other options.
Above all, never overlook the importance of water. Insufficient water intake can affect the functioning of the brain. It has been also proved that less intake of water creates false hunger and results in poor food choices. It is really a daunting task to make your kid have a healthy eating habit. Even as toddlers teach and model healthy eating habits. Feeding these foods will not ensure your child a seat in one of the top universities, but let us help them develop healthy brains for them to be smart and happy!
A child’s early brain development and cognitive power is influenced by what he eats as well as his early life experiences.