How Nutrition Affects Your Baby’s Brain

Nutrition is one of the most important factors in making your kid smart, along with genetics and brain stimulation.

As a baby, your kid’s brain grows at the fastest rate ever.  Giving your kid the right nutrition to build his brain is critical at this stage.  The effects of brain nourishment at the infant stage can last a lifetime according to the latest scientific studies.

The study of Professor Alan Lucas from the Medical Research Council Childhood Nutrition Center which involved 360 babies born prematurely showed that:

  • Infants who were fed with nutrient enriched preterm formula have higher verbal IQ scores when they grew up to be seven or eight years old than those fed with regular formula milk.
  • Infants who were fed with the regular preterm formula have more incidence of cerebral palsy (a disability resulting from damage to the brain before or during birth which results in motor skills, speech difficulties, learning disabilities, or other problems).  Although inferior nutrition is not the cause of this problem, it may have prevented the brain from being able to cope with an adverse event, like inadequate oxygen supply, which causes cerebral palsy.

Children who were malnourished between the middle of the mothers’ pregnancy term and two years old have brains that are smaller than normal.  This inadequate brain growth usually results in behavioral and cognitive problems throughout the kids’ life.  This includes lower IQ, slower language and motor development, and poorer school performance.

As a mother who wants your kid to be smart, you should ensure that your baby has adequate nutrition by following these guidelines:

  • While pregnant, you should gain about 25-35 pounds if you have normal weight, 15-25 pounds if you are overweight, and 28-40 pounds if you are underweight.   On the other hand, gaining too much weight can lead to premature delivery.  Premature delivery is one of the greatest risk factors for mental impairment, according to Dr. Lise Eliot.  Premature babies miss out on special nourishment from the placenta and are more vulnerable to infection.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables as the antioxidants they contain protect your baby’s brain from tissue damage.  Eat protein to build cells and hormones for your growing baby.
  • Avoid alcohol in any amount because even moderate drinking can lead to the impairment of your baby’s learning, attention, and social skills, according to March of Dimes.
  • When your baby is born, give him breast milk.  Breast milk contains a mixture of ingredients such as long chain fatty acids, proteins, and amino acids that commercial formula manufacturers find hard to replicate.  These nutrients may be responsible for the development of neural tissue.
  • Give iron supplements to your breast-fed infant beginning around six months old.  Bottle-fed babies should be given formula that contains iron.  Iron is an important mineral that maintains the adequate number of red blood cells which carries oxygen to the brain.  Iron deficiency results in cognitive problems in young children.
  • The infant stage is not the time to deprive your baby of fat.  Until about two years old, your baby’s nerves are rapidly being coated with a fatty substance (myelin) to enable neural impulses to travel faster.  Your baby should get most fat from breast milk or formula.  After two years, your baby should get less fat and start a heart-healthy diet.


Scroll to Top