The early years of a child have a defining impact on their general progress and brain development. During the initial stages, special care should be taken of a child’s diet along with exposure to different experiences and stimulators.
Feeding the child brainpower starts right from the time he or she is conceived. Talk to any pregnant mother, and they would tell you how the family, especially the elders fuss about their nutrition. And rightly so. Having a balanced diet, eating on time, avoiding junk food and including brain foods from the time you are pregnant through your nursing days is the key to kickstart the desired physical and mental development for your child.
Apart from diet, during the initial stages, children should be exposed to different experiences and stimulators to enable them to develop skills and abilities necessary for everyday life. The right stimulators at the right age can further augment the mental capability. This would help them in their learnings, interactions, as well as social and emotional behavior.
A combination of these, along with the mother’s diet during pregnancy as well as breastfeeding called FeedIQ, is what is responsible for baby’s brain development.
Introducing solids is a very challenging task for all new parents. You will find parents discussing eating habits along with poop and puke color and frequency all the time😊. And while it is difficult introducing different varieties of foods, understanding their likes and dislikes, there are some essential nutrients that you must include in the diet in some or the other form.
DHA is the most important building block for the development of the baby’s brain. Research shows that DHA is susceptible to damage from oxidation. And natural Vitamin E helps to protect it from this oxidative damage. Thus, including foods high in DHA and Vitamin E should be prominent in the diet of babies (as well as pregnant and lactating moms). Here are some sources of Vitamin E rich foods
Nuts like almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, pistachios and brazil nuts are good sources of vitamin E.
Tip: If your children don’t like them as is, then powdering almonds and brazil nuts and adding it to their milk is a good way to make sure they get their regular intake.
Wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, almond oil, olive oil all have vitamin E and are easy to include in your and your baby’s diet.
Fruits and vegetables
Sunflower seeds, avocado, red pepper, spinach, broccoli, mango, and kiwi contain natural vitamin E
Seafood like crayfish, lobster, salmon, trout, and shrimps are a good source of this vitamin.
Brain games and exercises
Stimulating the brain is as important as taking care of the diet when it comes to the mental and cognitive development of babies. Unlike our generation where many of our children receive all their stimulation through screens, which obviously is a major deterrent for mental development, our older generations had got this bang on.
Even today, when I watch my mother-in-law or mother play with my kids, they can so easily invent a game out of absolutely anything. I have a carpet in my living room that has a geometrical pattern on it and I was surprised to see a super fun game that my mother-in-law had engaged my lil one with. She was jumping from shape to shape, sometimes with one jump and sometimes multiple. This activity so easily helped my lil one to understand shapes and numbers in a fun manner and she was also getting some physical exercise.
These kinds of brain stimulating activities are essential and here are some of the activities that you can engage your babies in.
From memorizing names of cousins and relatives to trying to remember what they saw in a room they left, to games like i-spy are all wonderful to stimulate the brain.
One game I play with them while driving is to read the number of one car, one auto, one bike and one bus – and then we try to remember the numbers we had read.
Pretend play also helps in stimulating the emotional and social aspects of mental development. Coming up with small problem situations while pretend play and helping your children come up with solutions, provides them with problem-solving skills. Also, playing with dolls or action figures brings out an emotional aspect out too.
Arts and crafts
Messy play arts and crafts help the kids in developing their motor skills and generate creativity as well as inquisitiveness.
There are many age-specific activities and stimulations that you can start engaging your babies in. And these combined with correct diet will surely give your baby that added advantage, that kickstart to grow into smart kids and adults.