You’re going to be an amazing mum!  How do I know that?  Well, the fact that you’re taking the time to read this blog about tips to make your baby smarter speaks volumes about the type of parent you are going to be! In this blog, I’m going to provide you with 3 essential nutrition tips to make your baby smarter during pregnancy.

Boosting your baby’s brain health

Isn’t it amazing to think that your baby’s brain is being developed right now, in your womb?! Eating the right nutrient-rich foods during pregnancy is essential to make your baby smarter…. which is why eating well during pregnancy is one of the best gifts that you can give your unborn child.

Let’s look at the 3 key nutrients that your body needs to create your baby’s brain….

1. Iodine

Your iodine requirements increase during pregnancy from 150 micro grams per day, to 220, and one of the main reasons for this is that this nutrient is needed to help develop your baby’s brain and Central Nervous System… which is the network of nerves that communicates messages throughout our body.  This is so essential because even a mild iodine deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Now we get iodine from the sea and soil, so it’s found in a range of whole foods…. and it’s important that you get a supplement that contains iodine as well… but a supplement won’t give you all of the iodine you need. Supplements are made to ‘SUPPLEMENT’ a healthy diet, not replace it, so make sure that you’re getting adequate iodine from both supplements AND your diet. 

2. DHA omega 3

DHA stands for docosahexanoic acid and is a type of long chain omega 3. DHA is a major structural nutrient in the brain, and studies suggest that there is a link between mum’s DHA intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and mental advantages in baby’s such as improved psychomotor development and improved attention skills.  For example, a study published this year found that baby’s whose mum’s consumed the most DHA during pregnancy, had the best problem solving skills. 

The best source of DHA is fish, so it’s important that you’re eating 2-3 serves of low mercury, omega 3 rich fish every week throughout your pregnancy. If at all possible, I’d highly recommend that you get your DHA from food instead of supplements as there’s been some research that omega 3 supplements don’t always have the same benefits as omega 3 for food.  I did a tutorial on the best fish to eat during pregnancy on an earlier episode of Nourish, so if you need some help with which fish to eat, you may like to watch that. 

3. Choline

Choline requirements also increase during pregnancy, but it’s been found that approximately 90% of pregnant women don’t meet their choline requirements.  Choline works with folate to create your baby’s brain and spinal cord.

Research suggests that low intakes of choline during pregnancy may be linked to increased risks of mental health conditions such as schizophrenia in our babies later down the track….. and adequate choline intakes during pregnancy have been linked to better cognitive performance in our children. For example, a study of a group of American mummas, found that those with the highest choline intakes during their second trimester of pregnancy had children who achieved the highest scores on memory tests seven years later.

So, you can see that this is a key nutrient for your baby’s brain health. You won’t find it in many supplements, so you really have to get it from your diet.  The richest sources of choline include eggs, wheat germ and red meat.  Again, you’re not going to get too much choline from a packet of potato chips!  Actually, who are we kidding?  We’re not going to get any choline from a packet of potato chips!  Can you see why I’m so passionate about the importance of a nutrient-rich diet during pregnancy? 

And, it doesn’t stop there…. Nutrients like folate, iron and vitamin D are all essential for making our baby smarter too!

So, let’s bring this back to you. On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you that your baby is getting the right amounts of these three nutrients?  Let me know in the comments box below. 

If you want to want to be confident that you’re giving your baby all the key nutrients that he or she needs for their brain development, you need to have a meal plan. You’re not going to get these nutrients just by having a muffin for breakfast, crackers for lunch, and pizza for dinner, are you?  It’s the only way that you can be SURE that your baby is getting all of these key nutrients every day. 

So, if you really want to make your baby smarter, make sure you put together a nutritious pregnancy meal plan.  If you need help, I’d love to help you do this. And, continue to support you to eat well throughout your pregnancy.


Melanie McGrice in the kitchen

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