A child’s brain development is extremely important throughout their lives and that development can be affected by what you feed them. More than that, your child’s mental health is equally important. Without having to buy high-sugar vitamin chews and force-feed immune-boosting medications to your kids every day to make sure they receive their daily intake of brain and mind food, you can simply use naturally rich ingredients in their meals.
And while every parent knows that it’s a struggle to make your child eat healthily, there are fun, tasty and sneaky ways to make sure your child obtains the vitamins and minerals their minds need to stay healthy.
We’re specifically looking at the nutritional value of egg yolks separated from the egg whites as they contain most of the nutrients. Egg whites are also only recommended to be introduced to your child’s diet from 12 months old. They can be a common allergy trigger so it’s best to wait until they’re older.
Egg yolks, on the other hand, can be introduced from nine months old and are a source of 6,3 grams of protein and five grams of total fat (only 31 percent of which are saturated fats). Of all the nutrients an egg yolk contains, the most important for your child’s brain development is the omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, B3 and B6, zinc, lutein and choline. These respectively assist with memory, cell generation, development and the nervous system.
As babies, there are a few ways you can subtly introduce egg yolk into their formula or yoghurt. But when they get older, you can make up a boiled egg, poached egg, omelette or scrambled egg (every child has their preference). And by that age, they will be able to benefit from the entire eggs’ nutritional value.
Fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids are crucial nutrients that need to be in your child’s diet consistency up to the age of 20. When you consider that the human brain is made up of more than 50 percent of fat, most of which is omega-3, you realise how much these rich fish need to be in our diets.
Salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines are high in omega-3s. Salmon also happens to be a great source of protein and potassium, high in vitamin B and D, as well as other health benefiting properties. For babies of six months, pureed salmon will do, but to get your older kids eating salmon, you might need some kid-friendly salmon recipes.
Some say that Greek yoghurt is the best baby food after a mother’s breast milk. It holds the necessary vitamins, proteins and fatty acids to support brain function and cell growth. It also contains probiotics that are beneficial for the immune system, gut health and behaviour.
When your babies start teething, this will also be a soothing food choice for their gums when it’s served cold straight from the fridge. The teething process can also cause your baby to have stomach issues for which Greek yoghurt will naturally help as well.
CBD hemp oil
One of the sneaky ways to look after your child’s mind and provide necessary nutrients for their diets is through CBD hemp oil. You can buy CBD hemp oil available in South Africa in a tincture that can be added to foods and drinks to administer to your children.
You can buy CBD hemp oil in South Africa for the entire family as there are no traces of THC (a hallucinogenic) and only the cannabinoids that complement our body’s own endocannabinoid system. This is another source of those essential fatty acids that our brains need to develop and function properly. It’s safe for you and your kids to include as a supplement to your brain foods diet.
When you start moving your six-month-old baby onto “solid foods”, the best go-to is mashed or pureed sweet potato. Rich in calcium, potassium, iron, copper and vitamins C, E and B-complex, the humble sweet potato is a dietary must for your baby and children. Sweet potatoes also contain the beta-carotene antioxidant which converts to vitamin A and aid in cognitive function.
Do your best to hook your children on sweet potato but be careful not to overfeed it to them, otherwise, they’ll reach a point where they won’t eat it again up until adulthood. In fact, that goes with all the above brain ingredients (save for the CBD hemp oil which they won’t taste, only benefit from).
As great and as necessary they are in your child’s diet, there are enough different options to alternate and keep your child interested in all the foods they need to be eating. Other naturally rich ingredients that will feed your child’s mind are avocado, blueberries, oats, apples, plums and deep-green vegetables. There’s a variety of ingredients for you to work with and make sure your child’s brain has the best chance at development.