NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — What your child eats in their first years can impact their brain development as well as the rest of their life according to a new report.
Brain development itself begins during pregnancy and continues for years after birth, especially up to two years of age or so. The mistake some parents make is believing that eating a low fat, heart-healthy adult diet will support brain development during that period.
Getting her two kids to eat a healthy diet isn’t always easy for Jennifer Osterweil, but she’s certainly doing her best.
“When your kids eat healthy, it feels like you’re eating healthy,” she said.
But as CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports, what parents consider “healthy” might not be right for babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics released a new report which says that food choices, beginning with what mom eats while a baby is still in the womb, could have a major impact on brain development and even mental health.
“It can affect the child long-term, in terms of cognitive development, in terms of attention, behavior,” spokesman Dr. Preeti Parikh said.
The AAP still recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months, and calls on pediatricians to recommend more than just a good diet. Baby doctors need to be more specific about including brain-building nutrients for pregnant women and young children.
“Things like choline, and you can get that in eggs, iron, iodine. You can get that in red meats, beans, lentils,” Dr. Parikh said. “Protein, peanut butter, eggs of course, lean meats, zinc.”
One error some parents make is giving their babies skim milk after they’re done breastfeeding. Normal brain development requires certain fats not found in non-fat milk.
Osterweil knows with little ones, not every day can be perfect. It’s the overall that’s what counts.
“If I can get something a little bit healthier with her, more of a balance. Like if I can get a slice of pizza with some broccoli on the side I feel okay! It was an okay night,” she said.
She said she’s taking it one meal at a time.
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