Thursday, December 1, 2011

Early Childhood and the Developing Brain: What Parents Should Know

We’ve discussed the importance of eating right for children, and the national concern with childhood obesity, but what about how what children eat affects brain development in early childhood?

In a recent article from CommonGround magazine, the importance of healthy eating on the brain during early childhood development was explained, stating that from birth to age three is the most critical time in brain development, but healthy brain practices should be followed throughout life.

To ensure your child’s brain develops to its full potential, and to maintain your brain’s health, keep these nutritional tips in mind:

Eat Colorful Foods
Consume a variety of organic fruits and vegetables each day... the more colors, the merrier! Did you know that there’s organic baby food? I like Earth’s Best, but there’s a lot of different brands available.

Get the Real Stuff
Real food is always better than processed. If you think your low-fat frozen meal is healthy, think again. Look for whole grains, protein, fruits and vegetables, and avoid chemicals and refined sugar. Again, look for organic baby food to ensure there are no chemical additives.

Keep toddlers hydrated, slowly introducing them to water by adding juice. But be sure to use 100% juice that will add some nutrients, not just sugar and artificial coloring.

In addition to nutrition, nurturing touches, responsive interactions, direct language, playing and exploring different surroundings, predictability and love are all key factors to ensure proper early childhood brain development. Take a look at these brain scans of two different three-year-olds, one who had normal experiences, and one who was neglected. The child with the normal experiences clearly had a larger, healthier looking brain than the child who was neglected.

Share your experiences on how you provide the nutrition and nurturing conducive to healthy early childhood brain development by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter page.

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