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The role of nutrition for brain development in infants and toddlers

Posted on 05-01-2014 | Bart Sutherin

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Children's brains develop rapidly, especially in the first five years. At birth, a child has 100 billion neurons, of which only 17% are activated. Therefore, your child's educational future depends on activating the other 83% before the neurons die because of non-connections. During a child's early years, there is a short window of opportunity in which these neurons can be activated.  It is during this critical time that your child will learn how to walk, talk, and relate to other people, laying the foundations for future academic and career success. This is why it is important that children get proper nutrition which is focused on supporting brain development.

Starting solid foods for infants

At the age of four to six months, your infant starts to eat solid foods. There has recently been a shift away from cereals made with rice towards more complete, nutritious foods. Mashed avocados, for example, are excellent brain foods, since they contain essential fatty acids like Omega-3, are cholesterol-free, and contain more than 20 helpful nutrients. Pureed blueberries are also a great choice because they are tasty and filled with flavonoids that are good for your infant's eyes, brain, and urinary system. The healthiest vegetables and fruits are organically grown, so head to the downtown Clermont Farmers Market to pick up your fresh fruits and vegetables.

Feeding your toddler

Fish such as tuna, salmon, and sardines are filled with the same essential fatty acids that are also found in avocados. Grilled or roasted fish served with vegetables for dinner or a  tuna sandwich on whole-wheat bread for lunch are both healthy choices. Proteins and vitamins in eggs are also good for total-body health, so scrambled, boiled or poached eggs will make a good breakfast. Toddlers love the taste and texture of Greek yogurt so this makes for an easily digested, nutrient-dense snack filled with protein, calcium, and vitamins.

Feeding your preschooler

Preschool children should eat the same foods as toddlers but can expand on their diet by exploring new flavors and textures. Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale are super-foods packed full of vitamins and nutrients. If your child is a fussy eater, make a brightly colored berry smoothie with a handful of kale in the mix and your child will have a tasty drink packed full of nutrients.

Healthy brain development is not just about nutrition.  Having an active learning environment that promotes the right kinds of stimulation is also essential. At Kids 'R' Kids of Clermont in Orlando, Florida, you can enroll your child in the recognized, scientifically developed Brain Waves Curriculum, which supports essential neural pathways necessary for cognitive, emotional and social development in children ages six weeks to five years. For more information, please contact us today.

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