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Unlocking Your Children’s Cognitive Potential!

31/10/2017

Our children’s brain grows the fastest in their first six years! This makes it of utmost importance for us as parents to pay attention to their nutrition needs as well as the amount of vitamins and minerals which our children get from their foods.

 

DHA, for example, is extremely vital for the development of both brain and eyes and crucial for our children to have sufficient amounts in their growing years.

 

In addition, other key vitamins and minerals such as Vitamins A and C, as well as calcium are essential building blocks for our children’s immunity, skin and bones.

 

Today, we find out what happens during each of our children’s developmental stage and discuss strategies to ensure that they get want they need at every milestone!

 

Below 6 months or before weaning

 

 

 

 

At birth, our baby’s brain is about only one-third the size of an adult’s brain. Within 90 days, our baby’s brain will double in size and in just three months, be more than 100% of what it was during birth. This rapid brain growth in the first three months stresses on how crucial it is for our babies to get as much DHA as possible!

 

Mothers are strongly encouraged to breastfeed their babies during this phase. This is because breast milk contains essential nutrients such as proteins, antibodies, DHA and important fatty acids to promote the growth of their eyes, brain and catalyse cognitive development. (Ref 1,2)

 

To increase the amount of DHA in breastmilk, mothers can consider food sources containing DHA such as salmon or cod in their diet. (Ref 3) Alternatively, mothers can continue with their Omega-3 supplements or opt to include cod liver oil into their baby’s diet. Mothers should note that moderate amounts should be given to the baby during the introductory phase. Do consult your paediatrician for advice on the dosage.

 

 

Weaning to 3 years old

 

 

 

Your toddler’s brain continues to develop at an even faster pace. It is important now to also manage their iron content and to include certain foods which contain necessary precursors for neurotransmitters i.e. the brain chemicals which relay information throughout our brain and in our body.

 

Mothers are encouraged to continue breastfeeding their children during this phase. At this stage, our mothers’ breastmilk is still generally high in healthy fats and fatty acids. This helps the process of myelination, i.e. the formation myelin part of the brain cell to speed up neural signals and protects the integrity of the signal as it is carried down the neuron.

 

Imagine this! Myelin, as the plastic insulator around a live wire of information to ensure that all the electrical signals is kept within the wires with no frays and strays. This will help our children develop a more sturdy foundation for cognitive development!

 

Iron is critical for the production of haemoglobin and red blood cells, vital for oxygen adsorption and transport across the body to major organs such as the brain and the heart. Iron deficient children run the risk of not able to have enough oxygen circulated around the body. A study by the shared on the National Centre for Biotechnology Information showed that children showed a positive correlation between cognitive function and haemoglobin concentration in children with iron deficiency.

 

When your baby is ready to be weaned, it would be good to continue with breast feeding while introducing iron-rich foods such as vegetables and fruits in puree form. In addition to containing iron, green and leafy vegetables have anti-oxidants which support brain health and keep our brain cells strong.

 

After our babies are 12 months old, you should include egg yolks and whites for an additional boost of important nutrients such as choline, niacin, Vitamin A, C, E, B6 and B12!

 

You can also include foods such as fish which contains healthy Omega-3 fats and DHA as well as oats which are great brain fuel foods for the kids. It is strongly recommended to add cod liver oil to their daily diets especially after our children turn 1 year old, to supplement their DHA intake and support brain development.

 

 

3 years to 6 years old

 

 

 

Our children’s brain begins to exercise its prowess. As our children try to understand their world, solve problems, expect conversations, imaginative play and a barrage of whys from them!

 

At this age phase, our children’s cognitive skills will develop at an amazing pace! To keep up with this, pack their diet with foods which continue to promote the development of neurotransmitters and proteins to nurture their brain cells.

 

Great food choices which contain healthy fats and DHA include eggs, Greek yoghurt and fish. Though greens may not be the most appealing to our kids and feeding them greens is a nightmarish task for parents during meal times, vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage contain folate acid and are superfoods to help promote their brain cell growth.

 

It is thus our duty to make greens more palatable for our children. This can be simply done so by adding vegetables into a favourite egg and tuna sandwich! Have fun with your food by using cookie cutters to shape breads, vege-omelettes or even make a Rubik’s cube out of fruit! Check out more examples over here!

 

In short, getting creative with your meals can encourage your child to have more of such healthy food!

 

Supplementing their DHA needs with gummies is a straightforward method too! DHA Gummies are generally packed with the goodness of DHA and gummies with micro encapsulation technology seals the fishy taste from most DHA supplements away, making this more acceptable for our children. Some gummies can come in various shapes and sizes too, allowing our children to have more fun while eating them!

 

 

6 years and above

 

 

 

Our children’s brain development goes into overdrive as they attend school to learn new skills and concepts. As they begin to grapple with the workload for Kindergarten 2 and in primary school, it is pertinent for us to supplement their brain with necessary nutrients to keep up with the increased demand!

 

Children at this age are more mature and have a better concept of how to eat healthily thanks to the healthy-eating initiatives in our preschools and primary schools. Reinforcing the importance of eating healthily at home and in school is important!

 

Work your meals based on the Healthy Plate principle – Half a plate of fruit and vegetables, a quarter of whole grains and a quarter of meat and others. Planning their meals with a mixture of food choices also exposes our children to various food textures, providing a larger variety of experiences and keep healthy eating feeling fun!

 

However, as our children spend a large amount of time in school or outside home, it is important for us as parents to manage their snacking habits. Snack time may become a doorway for our children to access sweets and other unhealthy snacks. While it is alright to have an occasional treat, too much unhealthy food can result in unnecessary weight gain, other health issues and reduced brain activity from poorer blood circulation since more blood will be directed to digest sugars and fats from such snacks.

 

Have your children learn the significance of making smart food choices! As our favourite saying goes, “It is all for your own good right?”. This a fantastic opportunity for them to understand the concept of choice and reasons to why they should avoid certain types of food. Provide them with opportunities on market trips to pick up food options for the family or have them select the next family gathering spot!

 

Such methods help nurture independence in our children, allowing them to be more mature in their thoughts and reinforces important eating habits from within.

 

On top of eating healthily to obtain their necessary vitamins and minerals, parents can give DHA and Omega-3 supplements to support our children’s brain and eye development.

 

As there may be lesser opportunities to eat a complete healthy meal, adding supplements which provide DHA and other healthy fatty acids will help in our children’s brain development.

 

 

 

To help our children get their much needed DHA, Scott’s DHA Gummies! Just three gummies a day delivers 40mg of DHA!

 

Made with microencapsulated DHA technology to not only lock in the benefits of fish oil but also to remove the fishy taste that most children are averse to, Scott’s DHA Gummies are the tasty and convenient choice for children to supplement their daily amounts of DHA!

 

Scott’s DHA Gummies also contains Vitamin D to support a healthy immune system and growth of bones as well as all the DHA goodness for your child’s healthy brain development!

 

Scott’s DHA Gummies can be conveniently found in all supermarkets and pharmacy retailers and are available in two popular fruit flavours, orange and strawberry! They also come in bottled (60S) and sealable packets (15S) for greater convenience. So, do not forget to give your children the best and pick Scott’s DHA gummies up from the stores!

 

* Recommended dietary intake for children up to age 10 yr (200-250mg of DHA+EPA). Each recommended serving of Scott’s DHA Gummies (3 gummies) provides: 40mg of DHA and 1.5 mcg of Vitamin D.

 

 

Ref 1: Breastfeeding, WHO, Retrieved from http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/topics/child/nutrition/breastfeeding/en/

 

Ref 2: Guo M. Manufacturing Technology. Elsevier; Cambridge, UK: 2014. Human Milk Biochemistry and Infant Formula.

 

Ref 3: Sherry, C.l., et al. “Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation in Lactating Women Increases Breast Milk and Plasma Docosahexaenoic Acid Concentrations and Alters Infant Omega 6:3 Fatty Acid Ratio.” Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids (PLEFA), vol. 95, 2015, pp. 63–69., doi:10.1016/j.plefa.2015.01.005.

 

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© Rise & Shine is established to provide our children with a better opportunities for their upcoming future. Our founding vision was to help and educate parents to nurture healthier, happier and brighter children. As part of what we do, we organise parenting workshops, carnivals and the largest play and educational festival in Asia. We also organise a series of children events throughout the year where families can bond, learn and have fun.

 

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