Optimize the Growth and Development of the Child with Nutrition and Stimulation

Oleh: Morinaga Platinum

The first one thousand days of life of the child, which is the time span between conception until the second birthday of the child, is a very important period in the formation of the foundation for health, growth, and development of the nerves.

The brain development of the child in this golden period requires adequate attention. If the brain of the child develops well, they can grow more optimally.

The human brain development begins since in the womb and proceeds until adulthood. However, the relationship between nerves in the brain is not fully connected at birth. This relationship between nerves is formed by a continuous process through activities conducted by the child, such as reading, playing, interacting with the environment, and so on.

In order for the child to have an optimal brain development, parents should pay attention to the supporting factors, including appropriate and balanced nutrition, stimulations, enjoyable activities, and educational toys. This time, we will discuss further regarding the sources of nutrition required by children for their brain development.

The central nervous system is rich in two derivatives of essential fatty acids, which are alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3) and linoleic acid (omega 6). These are unsaturated fatty acids that function as anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting in blood vessels. Both of these are beneficial in preventing the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases in the future.

The body requires omega 3 and omega 6 for the brain to function, and both of these fatty acids are the primary components in the structural formation of the brain cell membrane. As the body is unable to produce omega 3 and omega 6, an intake of food rich in both fatty acids is required. A deficiency in the intake of omega 3 can lead to impairments in vision and learning behaviour.

How much omega 3 and omega 6 is required by the child? See the following table:

Essential Fatty Acids

Percentage of Total Energy

1-3 Year Old Children

4-9 Year Old Children

Alpha-linolenic acid (Omega 3)

0.7

0.9

Linoleic acid (Omega 6)

7.0

10.0

Omega 3 can be obtained from plant and animal-based food. Important sources of Omega 3 include saltwater fishes such as lemuru, tuna, salmon, and cod. Omega 3 can also be obtained from canola oil, soybean oil, olive oil, and corn oil. Meanwhile, Omega 6 can be obtained by consuming vegetable oils such as soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower seed oil, and safflower oil. Fortification or addition of Omega 3 and Omega 6 in food products such as milk or baby food is widely practiced. Parents can easily fulfill the requirements of the child.

It should be noted that stimulation also plays an important role in the brain development of the child. Parents can maximize activities of playing while learning because it is beneficial in the formation of emotional, cognitive, and social functions, as well as optimal physical conditions.

Other Milestone