During the early months of your little one’s life, growth and development occurs at a rapid pace. As a result, it is important to focus on providing quality nutrition so that this development can take place in a normal, healthy manner.
For an infant, the best source of nutrition is breast milk, as it has the appropriate nutrients to ensure your little one’s healthy growth. This is all the more important, because physical growth is visible, whereas cognitive and visual development of the child are not directly visible.
Essential Fatty Acids
Breast milk contains long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Arachidonic Acid (ARA), which play a vital role in the formation of cell membranes and are a component in nervous and brain cells.
These fats are termed essential fatty acids as they cannot be produced by the body, and therefore should be a part of your baby’s nutrition. They perform essential functions for overall healthy growth and development. This is one of the reasons that it is recommended to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, and continue to do so until the age of at least 2 years.
Cognitive And Visual Development
DHA and ARA in breast milk play a role in neural maturation in infants. They are present in cell membranes and the white matter of the brain. These are both phospholipids, a type of fatty acid that plays a major role in the baby’s nerve cell functioning and conducting neural impulses.
DHA is also present in the cells of the retina. It helps in maintaining correct disc shape and size in the retinal light-sensitive cells, thus helping to maintain visual functions.
Most brain and neural development takes place in the early years. The brain grows significantly and reaches 80% of its final size by the age of 2 years. As a result, breastfeeding your little one is extremely important, as it has an appropriate quantity of these essential fatty acids to help ensure healthy growth and development.
In fact, children who have been breastfed show better performance on tests of cognitive and neurodevelopment, which might be linked to the vital role of DHA in brain growth and cognitive development.
Breastfeeding is the best choice you can make for not just your baby’s physical growth, but also his all-round development, giving them a solid foundation for a healthy life.
Disclaimer- All the information provided is for reference purposes only. Please do not consider this as a medical advice. Start Healthy Stay Healthy programme is for educational purposes only, in partnership with doctors. Always consult a doctor if you have any questions related to your own health or the health of your child.