Well, that is somewhat true, but, I believe that a mom is born even before the baby is conceived, i.e at the planning phase.
Mothers start wanting the best for their babies even before they are born. Most mothers start taking vitamins, folic acid, and other necessary supplements. They give up coffee, alcohol consumption and avoid passive/active smoking. Music choices change from dance numbers to chants and meditative music. And they try keeping their overall diet healthy and clean. All these sacrifices and changes are made, keeping the well being of the newborn in mind.
Parents always want their children to be better versions of themselves. They want their kids to be smarter, healthier and more active than they are. Research has shown that brain development of a child starts at conception and 90% of brain development happens till the age of 2. Advancement in medical technology has shown that diet and stimulation can help our children even before they are born.
Importance of mental health
Just like physical development, brain development for babies happens over time. It starts during pregnancy and goes on till early adulthood. But since maximum brain development happens in the early years, this foundation has to be strong.
The brain is a key organ. It controls physical activities like walking, talking, seeing, hearing etc and mental and social ones like problem-solving, memorizing, socializing, and communicating others. Thus, even if the body is physically developing and fit, mental development is essential for proper functioning.
A baby whose physical and mental development is according to his/her age and meets the expected milestones would be able to learn new skills easily and evolve socially. Thus being more confident, having a higher self-esteem and a healthy emotional outlook. This would have a positive impact on his/her success at home, school and eventually all walks of life.
How can we help with brain development?
We as moms can literally feed our babies with IQ / Brainpower. This can be done through nutrition we provide them – during pregnancy, while breastfeeding, diet post weaning and some stimulating brain exercises. This put together is known as Feed IQ.
Nutrition during pregnancy
I remember how during pregnancy I started taking extra care of my health. Periodic blood tests to make sure all levels were within the specified range, proper diet and meal times, extra supplements for all the deficiencies, enough rest and sleep. We all go that extra mile. But along with that also come a lot of myths and advice on what to eat and not eat while pregnant. So here are some pointers:
- Have a well-balanced diet that contains all food groups, including grains, fruits, vegetables, protein-rich foods, and dairy. It should also contain the required amount of oils and fat to provide energy and support development of organs and placenta.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, smoking, raw and uncooked food, non-pasteurized dairy foods and too much of junk food.
- Drink plenty of water and fluids.
- Make sure you are taking your regular vitamins and mineral supplements as suggested by your doctor. Those that are most important and that you should watch during pregnancy are iron, folic acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and Vitamin E.
- Try having smaller and more frequent meals. This will make sure you are energetic through the day as well as reduce the heartburn and possible indigestion
Here’s a quick guide to help you with your pregnancy diet
Nutrition while breastfeeding
While breastfeeding, a mom needs an additional 500kcal in her diet. I remember constant hunger pangs while I was nursing my lil ones. I was surprised how I was always craving for wholesome foods and not the regular salads and sandwiches which used to be my all-time favorites. Also during normal days, I am someone who needs to be constantly reminded to drink water at regular intervals, but while nursing, my water consumption almost doubled. This made me realize that our needs while breastfeeding is different from normal.
We know that moms pass on the critical nutrients as well as antibodies to their babies through breast milk and thus it is very important for moms to ensure they are consuming the right kind and amount of food.
Diet while breastfeeding is similar to that during pregnancy. A well-balanced diet with all food groups, lots of fluids, necessary supplements and frequent meals are all essential – both for the mother to recover as well as the baby’s physical and mental development.
Brain development exercises
Along with providing the right nutrition, brain-stimulating exercises are extremely important to build the IQ of our babies. These days most of us resort to devices to keep our kids occupied and engaged when we are busy. But when I watch my kids with their grandparents, especially their grand-mothers, I admire how they effortlessly keep them engaged. Simple things like playing peek-a-boo, showing them their body parts in the mirror, rolling a ball or bangle to and from them, stacking glasses or plates, making them jump from square to square on tiles, all these are shaping some part of their brain. Along with this, there is an added benefit of bonding with your babies and keeping them away from gadgets and screen time. Brain stimulating activities are age specific and you can see them all here.
Whatever phase you are in – planning, pregnant or mommy, pick up nutrition and stimulation activities of that phase and Feed IQ to your babies. Coz, we all want to start early but its never too late to catch-up.
Disclaimer: The above content is just for information and guidance and may not be regarded as medical advice or instruction. Always consult your medical practitioner before taking any actions or inactions.
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