Essential Tips You Need to Know for a Healthy Baby

You ask yourself, “OK, we’re having a baby…what foods should I be eating that will insure this baby is growing healthy and developing the absolute best that he can?”

What you choose to put in your body now can affect your child for the rest of his life.

Kinda scary, huh? It’s every parents hope and desire to watch their babies grow up to be healthy, happy, successful adults. Certain foods you eat now can affect your infant’s capacity to learn and their ability to remember what they learn.

Check out his linkTasteforlife 2017 nutrition chart. This easy to read chart lists vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy body. It offers detailed information about what each vitamin or mineral does, the best food sources for each and the recommended dietary intake. I’m sure you will refer to this chart again and again. 

⇒ Did you know… Your baby’s brain starts forming 3 weeks after conception and possibly before you even realize you’re pregnant.  Your little one’s brain continues to rapidly grow with the most significant growth happening during your 7th, 8th month of pregnancy and the first 5 years of his childhood. During your last trimester, your baby’s brain is forming learning abilities and beginning memories.

The Importance of Vitamins

First and foremost, as soon as you know you’re pregnant switch over from your daily multivitamin to prenatal vitamins as they supply the right amount of folate (folic acid), vitamins B12, C, D, zinc and Omega-3s (DHA) for brain development. It’s also wise to include a good probiotic.

Did you know… A study conducted at Harvard Medical School proved that the more fish women ate during their 2nd trimester, the higher their babies scored on a mental development test at 6 months of age. They recommend enjoying fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids twice each week.

Click here to get my insanely delicious recipe for Blasamic-Glazed Wild Salmon. Youre gonna love it.

Turn on the Music

Music plays an important part for your developing baby and even affects his disposition later in life. Babies get used to the music and voices they hear in the womb as early as 23 weeks. Knowing your voice before he’s born helps him bond with you after. This goes for dads too… so read, talk and sing out loud. After birth, he’ll be more alert and active when he hears those familiar sounds. And, believe it or not – your baby’s ability to hear in the womb helps him start to understand speech rhythms. Definitely a plus.

Listening to classical music is soothing for your growing baby and he may gravitate towards classical as he grows.  

Avoid Mercury!

Because mercury contamination in some fish can harm the nervous system of a developing baby in the womb, you should totally avoid the following fish:

  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • Tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico like cod and halibut
  • American eel (common in sushi restaurants)
  • King mackerel and Atlantic Makerel
  • Marlin
  • Bluefin, albacore and yellowfin tuna
  • Pacific Ocean perch (orange roughy)
  • Pacific sardines
  • Bluefish
  • Grouper
  • Sturgeon

These fish contain the highest levels of mercury so do your newborn a favor and just say “NO”.

⇒Did you know…Many fish in the Atlantic are heavily contaminated by industrial waste as well as being over fished.

The better choice…

  • Sardines
  • Anchovies

⇒Click here to read a fun blog:  What is the Best Fresh Seafood?

  • Pollock
  • Whitefish like haddock and Atlantic cod
  • Shrimp
  • Catfish
  • Fish sticks or fish fingers which are made from whitefish like haddock, Pacific cod and pollock…just get in the habit of reading the label to know what’s inside.

Choose fish responsibly farmed or caught like the following:

  • Wild Alaskan King crab (US)
  • Wild Alaskan salmon (US and Canada)
  • Wild anchovies from the Adriatic Sea
  • California halibut
  • US haddock
  • Black Sea bass
  • Red snapper from the Gulf of Mexico
  • Wild Asian carp
  • Farmed and wild bass from the Atlantic US
  • Farmed US catfish
  • American and white farmed sturgeon
  • US and Canada caviar
  • Wild Pacific halibut
  • Farmed rainbow trout
  • Pacific cod

And try to avoid fish that are NOT responsibly raised or caught like the following:

  • Imported* farmed** catfish
  • Wild caviar from the Mississippi River
  • Wild Chilean Sea bass (unless MSC certified)

⇒ MSC, Marine Stewardship Council, is one of the best certifications of seafood sustainability that currently exists. An independent and non-profit organization, MSC has established a global environmental standard for sustainable and well managed fisheries. This means they help preserve the abundance of fish, species health and health of our oceans.

  • Wild Atlantic cod (unless MSC certified)
  • Wild crab from Asia, Russia and US Atlantic
  • Wild and farmed** Atlantic flounder, sole and halibut
  • Wild Atlantic Salmon from Chile, Scotland and Norway
  • Wild sardines from the Atlantic and Mediterranean
  • Farmed imported* shrimp
  • Wild squid from Asia

*Why not imported?

According to the FDA, over 85% of fish consumed in America is imported and many countries do not have the same standards as the United States does. This means, imported fish can have banned antibiotics and pesticides…such as DDT which was banned in the US 40 years ago.

The impact of DDT over the years continues to mount, according to the Pesticide Action Network-North America, PAN. Recent studies show a range of human health effects linked to DDT and it’s breakdown product, DDE:

  • Breast and other cancers
  • Male infertility
  • Miscarriages and low birth weight
  • Developmental delay
  • Nervous system and liver damage

**Why not farmed?

According to the FDA, unless responsibly raised, farmed fish are often crowded into tanks and usually fed a diet of antibiotics, growth hormones, genetically-modified plants and other foods that are not common in lakes, rivers and the ocean.

Unfortunately, these farmed fish are brought up on an unnatural diet and end up on menus at our favorite restaurants and at our grocery store. Ask the fellow behind the fish counter at your local food store chain where their fish was caught or farmed and chances are he won’t know.

A fish monger, proud of his product, will welcome questions about where his fish were farmed, how they were raised and what they were fed.

⇒ Did you know… ALL salmon sold in each of their 1,744 Target stores in 49 states across North America (Target.com) is wild-caught Alaskan salmon. Yes, indeed.

I Love a good tuna sandwich.  Is that OK?  There are 2 kinds of canned tuna: chunk light which is more flavorful, has lower levels of mercury but lower in heart healthy Omega-3s. The other is solid or chunk white tuna which is Albacore. It’s mercury levels are almost 3 times higher than canned light.

So…where does this mercury come from?  Scientists have pondered this question and simply don’t know what’s in the ocean that is converting relatively harmless mercury into highly toxic methylmercury.

Other researchers say the cause is pollution. Mercury emissions and other manufacturing toxins  from coal-burning power plants and other industrial sources that burn fossil fuels are released into the air, eventually settling in our water sources when it rains. Bacteria then transforms this relatively harmless mercury element into highly toxic methylmercury which, in turn, is absorbed in the bodies of certain fish we eat. Small organisms and plankton eat these toxins and in turn they are eaten by larger fish – and so on and so on up the food chain. Larger predatory fish, like tuna, can contain 10 million times as much methylmercury as the water surrounding them. 

This is very important information for you to know as a pregnant mom growing a healthy little baby. But, also for small children whose immune system, nervous system, brain, heart, kidneys and lungs are all affected by the harmful effects of highly toxic mercury. If you’re still craving tuna, please eat responsibly but Read on…

The Bad News…

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), canned solid or chunk white (Albacore) contain 0.32 parts per million of mercury. Small children under the age of 6 should limit their intake to no more than 3oz per month. When your child is 6-12 years old this maximum safe limit increases to two 4 1/2oz portions per month. Adults, including pregnant moms can safely consume three 6oz portions each month. Please note…this is each month, not each week.

The Better News…

According to the EPA, canned light tuna contains 0.12 parts per million of mercury. Young children under 6 should limit their intake to no more than three 3oz portions per month. Older children, adults, women of childbearing age, pregnant and nursing women can safely enjoy up to 12oz every week. Skipjack tuna is small and the most abundant tuna that makes up 70% of canned light. Skipjack poses a substantially lower risk in terms of mercury than yellowfin or albacore.

But Beware… Read the label. Make sure you’re buying Skipjack. Don’t be fooled my the terms “gourmet” or “Tonno” as these are yellowfin tuna which contain as much mercury as solid/chunk white.

For more information and the best brands to buy, click here for canned tuna taste tests.

Which is best…water-packed or oil? Because we don’t know the quality of the oil and the lower-quality of fat calories it provides, it’s best to go with water-packed canned light tuna. Plus, it contains a tad more Omega-3s than oil-packed.

The Best News…

Give canned salmon a try. We already know salmon is high in heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and canned salmon is made with the best…Sockeye or Pink.

So…there you have it. If you are pregnant, please consider carefully what tuna you choose to eat – better yet…go with canned salmon and let me know how you like it and if you still miss tuna.

Eat Fresh Organic Produce

Visit your local FarmersMarket on a regular basis to pick out the freshest organic produce around. The darker the color the better…red tomatoes, plums, dark leafy greens, papaya, blueberries, raspberries, black berries and strawberries are all high in antioxidants and protect the baby’s brain tissue from damage.

Spinach also protects the baby’s brain tissue from damage due to its super nutrient…folate. Lightly steam spinach and be careful not to over cook or the nutrients will be lost.

⇒ Purchase organic frozen chopped spinach which was picked at its peak and immediately frozen to keep all its nutrients. Keep a bag on hand in your freezer and add some to eggs, vegetables, sauces, soups and even to top your homemade pizza.

⇒ Did you know… Iron helps deliver oxygen to your developing baby. Eat foods rich in iron like beef, chicken, legumes, seafood, vegetables and take an iron supplement. Boosting your iron intake to 27 milligrams per day (while pregnant) will help prevent premature delivery, the risk of poor growth and a lower IQ in your child. Combine iron rich foods with vitamin C rich foods like butternut squash, peppers, cabbage and tomatoes.

Thoroughly Cook your Meat and Eggs

Do not eat under cooked meat or under cooked eggs. A parasite found in these under cooked foods causes Toxoplasmosis. You may feel like you have flu symptoms but something horrible is going on in your developing baby…like hearing loss, blindness and even impaired mental development.

⇒ Beef and pork should be cooked to 170 degrees and poultry to 185 degrees.

⇒ Wash your hands, knives and cutting board in hot, soapy water.

⇒ The next time you go out to eat in a restaurant, do not order your meat rare or even medium rare…always well done.

⇒Skip the Caesar salad dressing on your appetizer and skip the tiramisu for dessert as both are made with raw eggs.

Stay Away from a Low-Fat Diet

The danger of eating a low-fat diet while pregnant is a lower birth weight and developmental problems for your newborn. The healthy growth of your baby’s brain and eye development depend on a diet rich in healthy fats.

This is especially important during your 3rd trimester. These monounsaturated fats are a great source of folate and protects your baby against birth defects:

  • A handful of nuts each day
  • Almonds
  • Avocados
  • Vegetable oil, extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil

The following polyunsaturated fats are rich in Omega-3s EPA (plant sources) and DHA (fish). They are needed for the health of your baby’s heart, immune system, brain and eye development.

  • Wild Alaskan salmon
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Herring
  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts

Healthy saturated fats are:

  • Beef tenderloin
  • Prime Rib
  • Ground beef

⇒Again, cook to well done.

  • Cheddar cheese and butter

Remember, during the 2nd trimester, healthy fats provide faster development and a healthy nervous system.

Danger… Trans Fats!warning

You’ll find trans fats in many packaged foods and frozen dinners at the grocery store. Trans fats are manufactured through a process where hydrogen is added to vegetable oil. Now you’ve got hydrogenated oil and partially hydrogenated oil.

Big food manufacturing companies do this to prolong shelf life at the food store. The longer the product can last on the shelf before spoiling the bigger their bottom line…$$$. These companies are not looking out for you, the consumer, they’re only looking out to line their “pockets”.

⇒Did you know… Colorings and preservatives used in processed foods, especially snack foods, are directly linked as a cause of ADHD and ADD in children. There has been a lot of news lately about this topic and the rise in number of children diagnosed.

But there is good news… Several studies have shown that if processed foods are completely removed from a their diet, children with ADHD problems significantly improve and in some cases are completely cured.

So, bottom line…Stay away from foods that contain chemicals and pesticides. Learn what to look for when you read the label and you’ll know what not to put into your precious child’s body.

Hold off on that Cocktail

Fall may be fast approaching and your favorite pumpkin spice beer is back but as tempting as it may be to relax in the sun sipping on a cold one…hold off for your baby’s sake. Even moderate amounts of beer, wine and liquor can harm a baby’s brain and lead to problems with memory, learning, paying attention and even social skills.

According to the March of Dimes, fetal alcohol syndrome is associated with heavy alcohol abuse during pregnancy.

Did you know… Sugary drinks have been linked to a number of health issues including dental problems in children and adults. An article in the Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter lists various fruits and herbs to add to a pitcher of water that will definitely enhance its flavor in a deliciously natural way. Just mash or slice and let the pitcher of water sit in the refrigerator for a few hours to let the flavors blend…and enjoy! 

  • Basil leaves
  • Fresh or frozen organic berries
  • Cucumbers, peeled
  • Grapes (organic and seedless, of course)
  • Grapefruit or oranges
  • Herbal tea bags
  • Mangoes or organic peaches
  • Mint leaves
  • Pineapple
  • Pitted organic cherries
  • Rosemary sprigs
  • Seedless watermelon

In Closing…  Eat for your baby. Eat as if the health and development of your baby depends on what you put into your body…because it does. A few short months from now when you’re holding your little bundle and looking into his eyes looking back at you…you’ll both be grateful you did.

Skål

Please share your comments, thoughts and memories below. I’d love to hear about your own experience.

 

26 comments to Essential Tips You Need to Know for a Healthy Baby

  • Elizabeth

    So interesting about all of the fish. You would think that wild fish from Scotland would be a better choice, but because it’s imported you never know how good it will actually be for you.

    • Thank you for visiting, Elizabeth. Here’s the problem with farmed Atlantic salmon…it has a nemesis – the sea louse. The sea louse (also called lice or salmon lice) was found in salmon farms on the Isle of Skye. This parasite lives by attaching itself to fish, eating the skin and blood.
      The louse infests nearly half of Scotland’s salmon farms and Scotland has some of the worst lice infestations in the world. This problem is growing worldwide and lice is far more resistant than the fish farm industry thought.
      Fish farms are being heavily polluted by the antibiotics and pesticides used to control these salmon lice and more and more toxic chemicals are being used. This is why fresh wild caught salmon prices are so high.
      While sea lice is a natural phenomenon, the louse is a hardy parasite and Marine Harvest, the giant Norwegian multinational organization that has many Scottish farms, is busy developing more effective ways to deal with this growing problem.
      In the meantime, enjoy fresh, wild caught salmon from Alaska when you can afford to treat yourself.

  • Brooke:)

    Hi Karen! I’m a mother of 4 (8,6,3, and 10m) so I am always interested in the health of a baby and beyond.. I really appreciated your information on the vitamins and intake of them.. And adding the fish recipe! Adding healthy recipes for any of your readers to enjoy is always good, especially when considering the health of your unborn child. Your conclusion of the article is very encouraging to any that want to eat well and take care to focus on their baby and not just themselves:) And the picture of organic produce made me hungry!! lol Thank you very much for your details and beautiful pics you have added in this article… I will totally send any expecting moms your direction:)

    • Karen

      Hello, Brooke…Thank you for your kind words. You definitely have your hands full with 4 young children. Your home must be filled with chaos, laughter and never ending fun. Being so busy, I hope you can cherish the ages they are. Kids grow up SO fast and before we know it…they’re off to college and we look at each other and wonder where the time went. Best wishes

       

  • shaunell

    HI Karen,

    I’m in love with this page. I haven’t had the chance to blessed with a child yet, but knowing what I can do before hand is a huge help. This was very informative and very educational. I felt like I’ve learned so much, I loved that you informed me on what my diet should contain and what to avoid. Seeing that I love fish, its good to know that I need to avoid certain types when I’m pregnant. I’m glad that you also touched on avoiding certain farmed fish and that you advocate for organic produce as much as I do! It’s also good you put to avoid low-fat diet, because i feel like a lot of pregnant women will be so consumed on not packing on the extra weight that they tend to forget that their baby needs healthy fats. Great page! I will definitely be researching your page some more.

    • Karen

      Greetings, Shaunell

      Thank you for visiting and leaving your thoughts and comments. Over the past few years, my daughter has gotten me more and more interested in the healthy aspects of eating organic, so much so that I buy 90% of my produce at farmers markets and local farm stands. I know where the produce comes from and how it’s grown.

      I agree with you about healthy fats. Being pregnant is no time to be thinking about a low fat diet.

  • Excelle

    This blog post has opened my eyes to the various fishes that are good and those to avoid. Its a good feeling, knowing you are what you eat and even more so, your baby’s health is dependent on what food choices we make before and during pregnancy.
    I currently take omega-3 gel capsules in addition to eating tasty grilled salmon, quite a nice source of fish oils.

    • Karen

      Thanks for leaving your thoughts and comments. I take supplements, as well, like 2,000mg of Omega 3 fish oil each day (when I remember). When you purchase your fish oil, check the label to make sure it’s all natural and contain a minimum of 500 mg of EPA/DHA. These are wholesome, potent ingredients.

      It’s important to avoid supplements that contain additives like artificial flavors, synthetic ingredients and chemicals like mercury or PCBs. 

      I love grilled salmon and have a few delicious recipes on my site that I’d love to have you try.

  • Sharon

    Hi Karen,
    I am not a pregnant mother but I believe your article benefits all of us no matter being pregnant or not. So much important information here.
    I knew for some time that mercury in fish is bad for consumption and you explained it very well with all the types of fish listed.
    Great article!
    Sharon

    • 8Karen

      Thank you, Sharon, for visiting and leaving your valued comments. I created this new drop down menu heading “And Baby Makes 3” because my daughter is expecting her first baby in December. I wanted to do this for her health, the health of her baby and the health of other new mothers and their newborns. So much has changed in the food industry since I was pregnant 27 years ago and it’s important for all new parents to know what is in our food and what we are putting in our bodies. The affects are life-long.

      And you are right…while this information is crucial for the pregnant mom and her growing baby, we all can benefit from it and be healthier for it. So, thank you for bringing that up and I hope to hear from you again.

  • ida

    hi this is very very useful information for expectant parents to have the know how. Its very detailed especially about fish hahaha i generally think nutrition is one key things women should consider medicinal especially during all their trimesters and should read such. Looking forward for more reviews on your part.Good info

  • ida

    Hello, WOW. Coincidentally, I have a similar website though about pregnancy complications and I love how in depth your content is and engaging.I didn’t know that much about fish. Now i do and it’s fascinating. Good work, keep it up

  • Brendon

    I have just finished reading your article and I must say that you have provided a ton of information here.
    I recently found out that I am going to be a father in about 7 months, so i have been striving to learn new things.
    I would have never thought about the Mercury content in fish and the effects it could have, I also did not realize that the gave hormones to farmed fish! makes sense though as they give hormones to everything else, but fish? Who knew!
    Thanks for the great info, I will be back to your site soon, I have a lot to learn!
    Brendon

    • Karen

      Hello, Brendon…Thanks for visiting and congratulations!! I’m so happy for you and your family. It sounds like you are going to be a real “hands on” dad. It’s so important to know what we’re eating especially if pregnant. With all the preservatives and chemicals in foods these days we can’t be too careful.

      Good luck with the pregnancy and best wishes for a beautiful, healthy Spring baby.

  • Chris Franklin

    Very interesting read! I knew about the mercury content in Tuna for unborn children but I never really stopped to think about limiting Tuna before the age of 6… Luckily my son hates the taste of it so we haven’t been feeding him any but if he had liked it… man I could have caused serious harm had I not know this! Thanks for sharing.

    • Karen

      Hey, Chris…Glad you found this interesting. Things worked out pretty well then if your son doesn’t like the taste of tuna. Have you tried canned salmon? I’d love to hear from people who have switched over, how they like it and how they’ve used it in different recipes.

      Thanks for visiting and leaving your comments.  Hope to hear from you again.

  • Andrew Szikora

    This is certainly an interesting read. I am sure if my sister knew half the things on this post she would have had a much better pregnancy. (Not saying it wasn’t already excellent and all her kids came out great!) I love the parts about the fish because I feel like people assume that fish is very healthy for them even though fish isn’t exactly the healthiest thing in the world at times because of mercury poisoning.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Andrew. I agree with you…so many people just assume eating fish is so much healthier for them. It CAN be if we choose the safest and best. Congrats to your sister for having healthy kids…share this blog with her for her next pregnancy.

  • Elizabeth

    Though I am not pregnant this is an interesting post to read. I knew about Mercury but not to the extent you have described like the effects of DDT caused by imports. I love the suggestion to talk, sing or play music for the baby, I hear Classical music helps as well. Very informative information for a healthy and smart baby which we all want!

    • Karen

      Hello, Elizabeth…thanks for visiting and leaving your thoughts and comments – especially when you’re not pregnant. I’ve always known about mercury in certain fish, but in researching this topic I was astonished at what I learned. That’s why I listed fish that are safe to eat and those that are not. So important for a pregnant mom and young children.

  • al

    I agree with much of what you write here.

    Regarding the music, I remember my wife went to a rock concert when she was pregnant with our first son. As soon as the music started up, the baby began to kick and squirm – he clearly didn’t like what he was hearing. My wife ended up leaving the concert early. Our son was born a couple of months later, but interestingly he dislikes rock music too this day. So who says unborn babies aren’t aware of what’s going on around them?

    Anyway, very interesting article and I’ll be checking out the rest of your site.

    • Karen

      Al, thanks for reading my blog and leaving your comments. You didn’t say how far along your wife was but as loud as a rock concert can get…I’m sure your son heard everything. haha I DO believe babies in the womb know and feel what’s going on around them, including what their mother eats.

  • Matt's Mom

    Wow, this is really a LOT of great information for what to eat for a healthy baby. My daughter in law is pregnant with her first child and I am going to bookmark this and have her read it. She has a long ways to go, and so I know she will want to read this as we all want a healthy baby for sure. I was surprised about mercury. I had never hear that it is a no no. Being from Alaska and having ate a LOT of seafood, I know all about farm raised, and I never buy that anyway, thankfully.

    • Karen

      Greetings, Matt’s Mom. Congratulations to your family! What an exciting time, for sure. Several years ago, a close childhood friend of mine vacationed in Alaska and fell in love with it so much, she moved there permanently. I only get to see Alaska by watching the TV shows Living Alaska and Life Below Zero.

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