From Pregnancy To Toddler Years, Find Out How You Can Make Your Baby Smarter

If you’re pregnant or a new mama, there are plenty of ways you can develop and stimulate your baby’s brain. Find out how you can help your baby reach his fullest potential – from the foods you eat while pregnant to the activities and games you play with him as a baby.
By Jennifer Chait

Boost Baby's Brain In Utero
Your baby’s brain continues to grow and develop significantly throughout your entire pregnancy, which is why healthy pregnancy habits for all nine months are so important. Studies show that you can actually boost baby brain function and development with healthy behaviors such as not drinking alcohol, avoiding toxic chemicals, and eating the right foods. 
Research relates that the following foods can positively affect your baby’s brain growth:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 is found in fish, fish oil supplements, flaxseed grain or flaxseed oil, and some eggs (look for the omega-3) label. Omega-3 is known to be a powerful brain booster. Studies show that babies score higher on mental development tests, when their mamas eat a lot of omega-3 during pregnancy.
  • Protein: While pregnant, your body is working hard to create baby brain cells and that requires extra protein. It’s easy to add extra protein to your diet; daily items like peanut butter on toast or a yogurt smoothie can boost your protein intake.
  •  Iron: Iron is necessary to help send oxygen to your baby’s brain during pregnancy. Eating iron-rich foods like spinach, lean chicken, and beans is important. Your health care provider may suggest an iron supplement as well.
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants found in foods such as blueberries, papaya, spinach, artichokes, tomatoes, and red beans can help protect your baby’s brain tissue.

 If you have questions about any of the above nutritional baby brain boosters, talk with your health care provider. 
Newborn Brain Boosters
After your baby arrives, you can also significantly stimulate your baby’s brain development. When your baby is born, his brain is about 25% the size of a normal adult brain. By the age of 2 years his brain is about 75% of its adult size -- that’s huge brain growth the first two years, so you can see why proper brain stimulation is so important. 

The best thing you can do is expose your baby to a variety of experiences and activities. Of course you don’t want to overwhelm your baby. That said; keep activities simple during the newborn stage.

Try activities such as: 

  • A baby mobile or baby flashcards
  • Soothing music
  • Breastfeeding provides optimum baby nutrition which helps build a healthy brain. Also, a recent large scale study notes that breastfeeding is associated with increased intelligence.
  • Get up close when you talk to your newborn so he can see you better.
  • Read to your baby. Even at this young age, a newborn will enjoy the closeness of being held and the changing tone of your voice as you read.
  • Place your baby on his stomach for a few minutes each day. This allows him to work on gross motor skills which helps to develop his brain as well. 

Baby Brain Boosters
As your baby grows out of the newborn stage, you can introduce even more brain boosting activities. A baby’s brain develops and grows as he learns that a rattle makes a noise, and that a pot and spoon make another. Seeing a ball roll across the floor and later trying to grab that ball works his brain too. Vary playtime activities as much as possible. Click here to find out the top 10 toys that build strong bodies and minds.
Other ways to stimulate your baby’s brain include:

  • Playing different styles of music – from classical to rock n’ roll; just keep the volume low. 
  • Expose your baby to various textures, colors, sights, and sounds. Walks outside, varied toys, interesting baby board books, and even a baby DVD occasionally, all expose your little one to new experiences that help to stimulate his brain.
  • Buy your baby stacking blocks. A recent study notes that blocks help to stimulate baby brain growth.
  • Quality caregiver contact is extremely important for baby brain development. Spend plenty of one-on-one time with your baby. Talk to him, sing to him, cuddle him like there’s no tomorrow.

Don’t forget, even if you can’t afford fancy flash cards or baby music classes, what’s most important is that you spend time with your baby. Time and attention is a key factor for building healthy baby brains.

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