Developing Your Infant's Brain and Eye Development

Nutrition just as important as toys and games

Nutrition just as important as toys and games

Improving your child's eye and brain functions from the beginning is a popular topic for new parents.  And, while playtime and interactive toys are important, don't forget about proper nutrition.  

In fact, a baby’s brain and eyes depend critically on nutrition and there are specific nutrients which have been shown to play a role in brain and eye development.

Here is Rebekah, one of our cover kids, displaying her eye/hand coordination. (Photo Visual Concepts Photography)

The importance of Lutein

During the critical time of brain and eye development, lutein and DHA are important nutrients, yet lutein has gone virtually unnoticed by parents.

Lutein is found in foods such as leafy greens, certain fruits and eggs. Emerging science demonstrates that lutein helps protect important cells in the eye. Now, new research from Tufts University demonstrates — for the first time — that lutein is not only present in the eyes, but it is also present in the infant brain. The regions of the brain where lutein is found are associated with memory and learning.

“Moms should be aware of the emerging research on lutein,” said Dr. Alanna Levine, a pediatrician and mother of two. “Moms in my practice ask me every day about ways to promote development in their children. Many focus on products, games, and toys and sometimes overlook nutrition.”

READ MORE: Baby Brain Boosters

“Peek-a-boo”  encourages brain development

“In addition to the right nutrients, playing together does encourage brain and eye development,” said Levine. “Rather than focusing on the latest toy, parents can do simple things like spending time with their children in front of a mirror, playing peek-a-boo or tracking the objects on a mobile.”

In their book, Creative Play for Your Baby, Christopher Clouder and Janni Nicol also praise simplicity, “A simple game, song or story leaves open and strengthens the capacities for imagination, creativity, empathy, wonder and fun that are far more important for the growing child as a foundation for future lifelong learning.”

Lutein and infant formula

Prior to the introduction of solid foods, babies can get lutein from a few sources, including breast milk and Similac. “Expecting and breastfeeding mothers alike should eat a well-balanced diet that includes foods with lutein like leafy green vegetables and eggs,” added Levine. “And parents who formula feed should look for an infant formula that contains lutein, as well as DHA.”

Recommended sources of Lutein for infants:

(Prior to the introduction of solid foods)

  • Breast milk

  • Infant formula supplemented with Lutein, such as Similac Advance

For breastfeeding mothers and infants already transitioned to solid food:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Zucchini Squash
  • Yellow Squash
  • Green Beans
  • Corn
  • Kiwi
  • Eggs
  • Apples

For a tour of that first year with baby, visit Learn about feeding patterns, games to play,  getting to know newborn’s hunger cues, and a lot of information for parents of preemies. Learn cool facts, too, like by the time your child turns three, her brain will have grown to 80 percent of its adult size. 

Courtesy of Family Features