How Your Baby's Brain Develops
During the first 1,000 days, from start of your pregnancy until your baby’s second birthday, a healthy balanced diet is particularly important for the development of your baby's brain. Learn more about how you can support this process by making sure you and your baby get the right nutrients.
The human brain is the control centre of the body. During the first six months of life, your baby's brain grows between 60 and 90 grams per month. Between their first and second birthday, the brain continues to grow at a rapid pace gaining between 15 and 35 grams each month. And with new things being learnt everyday, nutrition is essential to support brain development.
Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPs) are contained in:
- Fatty saltwater fish
- Leafy green vegetables
- Vegetable oils
- Egg yolk
- Lean meats
Brain development during pregnancy
The development of the brain and nervous system in the fetus begins as early as the 3rd week of pregnancy. By the end of week 8, the brain and the spinal cord are nearly completely formed. It's especially important for expecting mothers to pay special attention to the foods they are eating: the growth of the baby's brain is very much dependent on nutrition.
Not only during pregnancy — but also right now — eating fatty saltwater fish such as salmon, herring or mackerel can have a positive influence on the development of your child's brain Oily saltwater fish contains a lot of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), also referred to as fish oil, which is an essential building block for brain, nervous system and eyesight development. DHA is a long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPs).
LCPUFA — An essential building block of brain development
Smell, hearing, touch: from birth you baby’s brain begins to develop the necessary communication channels to process the countless number of stimuli in the world. At birth, the majority of the baby's neurons (around 100 billion) are already in place.
What are neurons?
Neurons are nerve cells which are in constant communication with one another. This communication takes place via neurotransmitters — messenger substances that carry information between neurons.
In order for your baby's cognitive abilities to develop properly, the brain's cells must first be networked and correctly communicating with one another. LCPs are a very important building block for the development of the brain - the body's switch board. Numerous scientific studies have shown that getting enough LCPs can lead to improved cognitive functioning, more highly developed motor skills and superior visual processing in children.
However, your baby cannot produce enough LCPs on its own. If you aren't breastfeeding or aren't breastfeeding exclusively, you should make sure your baby gets enough LCPs through baby formula. Today, this essential building block is contained in every high-quality infant formula.
Brain development during the first 10 months
There are many milestones in the first ten months of your baby's development: Laughing, grabbing, rolling, sitting, crawling, the first sounds and the first moments of understanding — this is a time of very high brain activity. The brain is growing rapidly and needs to get enough nutrients to support this growth. By about the baby's first birthday, the brain weighs about 750 grams.
A healthy weaning diet
At around five months your baby’s interaction with the world becoming much more vivacious.
At this age, they might already try rolling over onto their stomach. They can already open her hand and reach for objects that they see. All this activity shows the brain is growing rapidly and requires extra nutrients, which is why by around six months at the latest you should start to introduce pureed baby food.
Usually you can begin with a few spoonfuls of carrots or pumpkin around noon. After a while you can start adding potatoes and meat. Nutritionist recommendation: Occasionally replace the meat in your baby's vegetable/potato and meat puree with oily saltwater fish. Doing this will ensure that your baby also gets enough LCPs during the transitional phase to solid foods.