Not many people know that you don’t have to wait until your baby is born to help them develop their mind or support their growth. Your baby’s brain begins to develop in the first few weeks after conception. In the first trimester of pregnancy nerve connections are built that enable your baby to move around in the womb. While in the second trimester, more nerve connections and brain tissue are formed. That’s why your baby can start to hear sounds during the second trimester.
You can do a lot to give your baby a head start. Here are some tips.
- Eat a healthy, well balanced diet – A healthy diet should include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and plenty of water.
- Stay fit and active – Try to keep active on a daily basis – 30 minutes of walking each day can be enough, but if you cannot manage that, any amount is better than nothing.
- Take your supplements regularly – Eating a healthy, varied diet in pregnancy will help you get most of the vitamins and minerals you need. But when you’re pregnant, or there’s a chance you might get pregnant, it’s important to also take a folic acid supplement. Omega 3 fatty acids are absolutely essential for baby’s brain development. Make certain you include foods that have a good content of omega 3, such as, fish, soybeans and spinach, in your diet.
- Play music, talk, and read – You can certainly help your baby’s natural cognitive development by interacting with the growing foetus, and this includes singing and talking. By reading stories, playing music, or even just talking to your baby, you can let your child experience a simple form of learning in the womb, according to a number of studies.
- Keep thyroid levels in check – Deprivation of the maternal thyroid hormone due to hypothyroidism (deficiency of thyroid hormones) can have irreversible effects on the foetus. Early studies found that children born to mothers with hypothyroidism during pregnancy had lower IQ and impaired psychomotor (mental and motor) development.
- Eliminate alcohol and nicotine – Alcohol or nicotine present in a developing baby’s bloodstream can interfere with the development of the brain and other critical organs, structures, and physiological systems.
- Get a little sunshine – Higher vitamin D levels among mothers during pregnancy may promote brain development and lead to higher childhood IQ scores.
Factors such as poor nutrition, stress and infection during pregnancy have all been associated with adverse effects on foetal neurodevelopment. Omega-3 fatty acid foods like flaxseeds, walnuts, soybeans, fatty fish (like salmon and mackerel) has also been associated with better brain development. Folic acid, or getting the right amount of Folate, helps babies to form healthy brain cells. So look after yourself to give your child a lead.