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Pregnancy: Tips for a Brainy Child

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 30 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Brain Skills Child Pregnancy Pregnant

Many people think that we can only start teaching a child brain skills after birth – particularly during the toddler years and onward. But actually, pregnancy is a wonderful time to start.

It isn't simply a case of looking after yourself but also making sure your diet and experiences support your baby's brain development. Even though most women know they should eat a healthy diet, there are still some foods you can focus on to help your baby get the best start in life.

Power Up With Healthy Foods

Brain development in your baby needs protein for it to reach its potential. Many women will need to slightly increase their protein during pregnancy to support their baby's growth. Adding in an extra serving of protein each day can help ensure your baby gets what it needs.

Nutritious fats that are found in nuts, seeds and oils are important to help boost brain development in your growing baby. One study suggested that pregnant women who consumed sufficient omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy had babies who scored better on mental development tests.

Iron-rich foods are needed during pregnancy to ensure healthy brain development. You can add in servings of beans and other iron-rich foods to help you get enough iron each day. Some women may even receive the recommendation from their physician to take a supplement.

The Early Days

It may seem that all a baby does is eat and sleep during those first days and weeks but you can start now to help enhance brain skills. A baby's brain is nowhere near the size of a normal adult brain and what you do now can help to develop intelligence.

To help your baby get enough brain stimulation, you need to expose him or her to many different activities and environments. Even at this tender age, you can still read to your baby and play relaxing and calming music. A newborn still responds to your different vocal tones and words.

What to Avoid During Pregnancy

While much has been said about tips that are thought to enhance your baby's intelligence while you are pregnant, knowing what you should not do is equally important. Foetal alcohol syndrome refers to a number of effects that occur when a pregnant woman consumes alcohol and it harms her baby. One of the effects is mental impairment and sadly, these effects are not temporary ones. Instead, they can last for a lifetime, presenting many challenges for your child.

Your child could spend a lifetime struggling with anything from language skills to learning disabilities. During pregnancy, simply avoiding alcohol is one of the simplest things you can do to prevent impairment in your child's brain skills.

A Healthy Child for a Lifetime

Contrary to popular belief, brain skills do not simply begin after you give birth to your child. During your pregnancy, you have the opportunity to make healthy choices that support strong brain skills in your baby. Also, don't forget the importance of those first days and weeks to start helping your baby develop brain skills.

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