7 Tips to Boost Baby’s Brain Development
- Don’t skimp on protein. Brain growth requires extra energy, so it’s important to increase your protein intake in your pregnancy diet. The Dana Guide to Brain Health, a reference from one of the leading philanthropic organizations supporting brain research, states that moms-to-be should ideally consume 6 to 7 ounces of protein-containing food per day (think a piece of chicken and a serving of yogurt). That’s roughly one-third more protein than you’d need pre-pregnancy.
Kick bad habits to the curb. Smoking, alcohol, and drug abuse have all been linked to mental impairments and learning problems, such as ADHD.
- Keep cool.Exercising throughout your pregnancy is a good idea, but avoid overheating — especially during the first trimester. According to the March of Dimes, a sustained core body temperature of 102.5 F or higher is associated with an increased risk for birth defects of the brain.
- Relax. While low levels of stress during pregnancy are nothing to worry about, numerous studies have shown high levels (particularly in cases of mental or physical abuse) can have serious, long-lasting effects on the baby’s brain development. Getting away from dangerous relationships is especially critical during pregnancy, but when it comes to other sources of stress, adopting new coping skills can help. “Stress is involved in learning, working and everyday living, so new moms cannot and should not try to avoid it — and sometimes that becomes the stressor. Rather, we should learn to find ways to deal with extreme, enduring stresses and reduce our reaction to them. We should plan ahead, take time to relax, or learn a new coping technique, like meditation or massage,” says Jones.