AAP Updates List of Nutrients for Baby's First 1,000 Days

Boosting baby's brain development is contingent on a healthy diet.
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ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Jan 2018
A dad spoon feeding baby in high chair
Photo: Getty Images

When it comes to nutrition, baby’s first 1,000 days–the period from conception to age 2—is the most formative time in his or her life. Deficiencies here can have impacts that last a lifetime. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics is outlining which nutrients are the most important ones to focus on for baby’s brain development in a new policy statement this month.

First thing’s first: the AAP says macronutrients (proteins, fats and glucose) are essential for normal brain development. Without enough macronutrients, IQ score and behavior will suffer down the road.

Getting more specific, the AAP lists individual nutrients that best support neurodevelopment:

  • protein
  • zinc
  • iron
  • choline
  • folate
  • iodine
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin B6
  • vitamin B12
  • long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids

The best way to make sure baby gets these nutrients? Breastfeeding.

“Human milk and breastfeeding play a crucial role in neurodevelopment,” the AAP’s Committee on Nutrition writes in their statement. “Despite ongoing attempts to mimic human milk with infant formula, human milk may contain nutrients, growth factors and cells important for brain development that formula lacks.”

But remember, the first 1,000 days starts at conception. A healthy pregnancy diet impacts baby’s brain development too. An egg a day is an easy way to start.

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