Heredity is an important factor that influences the intelligence of your baby. However, the environment of the developing baby is an equally important factor that has a major influence on the baby’s intelligence. The pregnant mother’s diet, fitness, and emotional state can affect the development of the baby’s brain.
There are a number of things that a mom-to-be can do to boost her baby’s IQ and make sure her baby has a smarter brain.
Things to Do During Pregnancy to Have a Smart Baby
- Eat Healthy Food: Eating healthy food that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables is crucial for the healthy development of the foetus. The foetal brain also requires Omega-3 fatty acids for development. So, include foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, such as fish, walnuts, beans, leafy greens, hemp seeds, mustard oil, ghee, flax seeds, chia seeds, and seaweed.
- Exercise: Staying fit and active during pregnancy helps the baby develop a smarter brain. Exercise releases endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals that make their way to the baby, aiding in brain development. Exercise also causes the body to secrete the hormone, cortisol. Moderate amounts of cortisol promote the growth of the baby’s brain. Exercise increases blood flow to the womb, and this is good for the baby’s healthy development.
- Eat Eggs: Eggs are rich in choline, which is an important vitamin of the Vitamin B-complex family. It is said that consuming foods containing choline while pregnant is very good for the developing baby and has long-term beneficial effects on the child’s memory.
- Include Iodine in Your Diet: Iodine is an important mineral that is essential for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. A deficiency of iodine in the first trimester has been found to reduce the baby’s IQ significantly. Babies born to moms with low levels of thyroid hormone were found to be more likely to have low IQ. It is, therefore, important for pregnant women to include iodine in their diet. Iodine is found in yoghurt, milk and iodised salt.
- Include Folate in Your Diet: Folic acid, or folate, in its natural form, belongs to the vitamin B-complex family and is essential for the proper development of the brain and spinal cord of the foetus. Some studies have shown that women who started taking folic acid supplements at least 2 weeks before conception and continued to take them until the 8th week of pregnancy had a much lower chance of giving birth to a child with autism and neural tube defects. Folic acid is found in dark green leafy vegetables, lentils, nuts, and avocados.
- Get Some Sunshine: Vitamin D is essential for the development of strong bones and heart of the baby. Some unpublished studies have linked a vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women to autism in the baby. So make sure you get enough sunshine, as your body synthesizes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. If you have a vitamin D deficiency, consult your doctor before taking supplements.
- Avoid Alcohol, Drugs, and Nicotine: Substances like alcohol, tobacco, drugs and caffeine can cause serious developmental disorders in the developing baby. They also affect foetal brain development. It is, therefore, very important to avoid exposure to such harmful substances when pregnant.
- Talk and Read to Your Baby: The foetus can hear from week 20 onwards. By week 25, the auditory system is completely functional. So, by the 5th month of pregnancy, your baby can hear your voice and may even respond to increased movements. The foetus can distinguish between voices and can recognise the mother’s voice very clearly. So talking, singing or reading to the baby in your womb can help in the baby’s brain development.
- Massage Your Belly and Remain Stress-Free: Studies have shown that the baby can feel the sensation of touch in the womb. Gently massaging or rubbing your belly can help stimulate the baby’s brain and make the baby respond to the stimulus with increased activity. Stress can harm the baby’s brain development and, according to some researchers, also cause premature delivery. The longer the baby is in the womb, the more time it has for its brain to develop well. So, it is important for the mother-to-be to avoid stress and remain calm throughout the pregnancy.
- Avoid Exposure to Infections and Toxins: Exposure to toxins such as lead, cadmium, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and pesticides can cause serious developmental defects in the foetus. Seafood from contaminated water could contain such toxins. Moms-to-be should avoid eating king mackerel, swordfish, and other large ocean fish. Infections can also cause damage to the developing brain of the foetus. Infections like German measles and toxoplasmosis, which are caused by a microbial parasite found in cat faeces, can cause brain damage in the developing baby. Hence, pregnant women should stay away from sick children who may be contagious, and avoid cat litter boxes.
The choices a mother-to-be makes can determine the health and brain development of her baby. Therefore, it is vital for pregnant women to eat healthily, take prenatal vitamins, avoid harmful substances, and remain stress-free. Following the tips in this article during pregnancy will definitely increase the chances of having an intelligent and healthy baby.
Resources and References: Parents