When it comes to babies, there is a new exciting milestone to look forward to every day. The first time they smile or giggle, learn to roll onto their tummy, their first time crawling, or even the first time they manage to get a grasp on their favorite toy.
Ohh, there are so many firsts in those initial months!
But surely, the most exciting one by far for both the parents and the baby is starting solids. As a parent, it’s common to look for the best foods for baby brain development, since you always want what’s best for your babies.
Transitioning your munchkin to the world of different flavors with solids is a big and exciting step, and when you see them eating the first time, those expressions are just priceless!
A Healthy Diet Plan
Start solids for your baby only after they are six months old and sit up on their own as they need to learn to digest the new food. Also, the most important thing is to consistently check with your pediatrician first before you start solid foods.
Once you embark on this journey, you want to make sure that the focus is always on introducing a nutritious diet with healthy food to your baby. As a new parent, everyone asks what kinds of food are suitable for child growth? Which foods will help my baby’s development? To make sure your meal plans always answer these questions, you should always create a balanced diet.
A balanced diet comprises nutrient-dense foods, has healthy fats, and is flavorful enough to please your baby’s new taste buds. Always remember to avoid foods high in saturated fats in any form, as that can do more harm than good. Saturated fats are associated with heart disease. However, saturated fat in moderate amounts is alright.
But the key is being a patient and consistent parent when starting on solid foods. Give your baby time to taste and sample different nutritional and healthy solid foods. We all know that each baby is different. So, while some babies might love their first bite of solids, others might take some time and require some trial and error for them to get used to new flavors and textures.
To kick-start your little one’s solid journey, we compiled a list of 10 nutrient-rich foods with good fats and essential for your baby’s brain health and development. These are also foods that the little ones generally love because they are rich in flavors, have vibrant colors, and have pleasing textures.
10 Best Foods For Baby Brain Development
1. Greek Yogurt
Yogurt is a popular first food choice for parents around the world, and rightly so. It is rich in calcium, protein, and healthy fat, making it a nutritious first food option.
Greek yogurts contain natural probiotics, which means they have good bacteria that are incredibly beneficial for the gut, and help build the immune system.
The healthy fats they contain help develop brain cells, which is very important during those early months. In fact, some studies show a direct connection between the gut and brain. A bonus? Babies love the creamy and smooth texture of yogurts!
Pro Tip: Make it a point to go for plain Greek yogurts rather than the flavored ones, as they might have higher sugar contents.
2. Whole Grains
Whole grains like oats, barley, and quinoa are rich in carbohydrates, protein, and fiber and provide glucose, which is vital for brain function and energy.
They are also rich in Vitamin B, which is important for the creation of neurotransmitters. They make a great addition to any meal of the day if you are keen on adding superfoods for the baby’s brain.
One way to introduce whole grains to your baby is by grinding them to a fine powder and then boiling it with water to make a porridge. Once cooked, you can add a little bit of breast milk or even a fruit or veggie puree to make it more delicious and nutritious.
3. Colorful Fruits
Introduce your baby to colorful fruits like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, red and purple grapes as they are rich in antioxidants. The colored pigments make them rich in antioxidants, which protect the brain and body from free radicals.
They are also rich in vitamin C. Offer these fruits as purees or mashed form. You can also make a sauce out of them.
Once your baby develops teeth and is more comfortable with finger foods, you can offer them directly. Their bright colors make them a favorite with babies.
A baby’s growing brain needs omega-3 fatty acids, specifically Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), a fatty acid in the central nervous system, for growth and cognitive development.
Salmon is an excellent source of DHA. You can introduce salmon to your baby as early as six months old or when they are ready to start solids. While there are other fatty fish that you can add to your baby’s healthy diet, salmon is a good source of DHA.
You can cook and mash salmon, then add it to a vegetable puree. When they grow older and are ready for finger foods, you make nuggets out of them.
Pro Tip: We would suggest either baking or steaming salmon instead of frying as it causes minimal loss of omega-3 fatty acids.
Creamy, delicious, and nutrient-dense, avocados make one delicious meal! And who doesn’t love Avo and toast, right? While you can’t give your little one toast right away, what you can give is creamy mashed avocados.
The soft texture makes avocados perfect as the first food for babies and very much likable. They are rich in healthy fats, minerals, and vitamins, suitable for babies, and helpful in brain cell development.
Eggs make a delicious breakfast option and a great addition to a healthy diet. In fact, egg yolks are an important source of choline, which is the key component of the outer lining of brain cells.
It also contains Vitamin B12, selenium, and fat-soluble vitamins, all of which are key to the early development of the baby’s brain.
Pro-Tip: Eggs may cause allergies, so make sure to give them in small amounts during the first time to check if they suit your munchkin. Some babies are allergic to them, so it would be best to try them in small amounts. In case your baby is allergic to eggs, immediately contact your pediatrician.
7. Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils make an easy to cook and nutritious food option for babies. They are available in various forms and are rich in protein, fiber, carbohydrates, and iron.
All of these nutrients are very important for brain development and function. That’s why lentils or beans make an excellent superfood for your baby. You can cook and blend them into a puree or make a soup using a little bit of cinnamon for that hint of flavor.
Soft and small portions of cheese, like cottage cheese, are a great way to introduce other forms of dairy into your baby’s diet.
They are high in calcium and lighter in taste and texture, which is easy for your baby to digest and important for proper growth. Apart from whole milk, cheese is a good source of calcium.
Calcium is essential for early bone health and important for the electrical signaling within the brain system. You can give them small portions of cheese as a snack on its own or mix it with fruits or vegetables to make a complete meal.
9. Leafy Greens
Plant-based foods like dark leafy greens such as spinach or kale make an excellent addition to your little one’s meal. They are a rich source of vitamin K, antioxidants, and lutein, which help improve brain activity.
While it might be difficult to add leafy greens to their meals when they just start solids, you can blend them and make a soup. You can also add some apples or carrots to balance the flavors.
Sometimes, it is recommended to introduce leafy greens to your baby once they are ten months or older because they contain nitrates. Always check with your pediatrician if you are in doubt.
10. Nut butter
Nut butter is packed with essential fatty acids like monounsaturated fats and protein. Nut butter also makes a great choice to add to your baby’s daily meal when you feel they are ready for it.
They are also rich in vitamin E, vitamin B, iron, and zinc, which are known to be important for proper brain functioning and brain health. You can add a spoonful of peanut butter, cashew butter, or almond butter to your baby’s porridge, cereal, or soup.
Pro-Tip: Nuts may cause allergies, so you have to be very careful about nut allergies. Research shows that introducing nuts or nut butter early in an infant’s diet makes the chances of them developing allergies in the future less. But if you are unsure, you can opt for the sunflower seeds butter which is quite popular nowadays and is free from the top eight allergens: soy, dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, fish, and crustacean shellfish. It is also high in polyunsaturated fats essential for child development.
Apart from these foods, you can also introduce lean meats (not red meat) and other low-fat foods that can help their overall development.
Final Thoughts on the Best Foods for Baby Brain Development
Children and young kids need a balanced diet that consists of healthy fats like saturated fats, more protein, carbohydrates, plant foods, vegetable oils, fiber, and fatty acids for complete growth and development.
We hope you and your baby’s journey of solids are as fun and exciting as it should be. Also, keep this list of nutrient-rich foods handy to make sure you include them in your baby’s day-to-day meals.
If you need more information, please get in touch with your pediatrician.
Enjoyed this article? Share it with the other mommas out there too! And don’t forget to check out our other posts on the blog.