Learn about the benefits of DHA for babies. Read about the relationship between DHA and brain development, as well as how DHA can help eye development.
First things first, what is DHA?
DHA, or Docosahexaenoic acid, is an Omega-3 fat found throughout the body and the most abundant Omega-3 fat in our brains. While some health trends advocate for cutting fat, Omega-3 fats are good fats, and DHA is an important building block for infant brain development. You can help your infant’s brain development by including DHA in their diet.
Discover the Benefits of DHA for Babies
Your baby brain will never grow this fast again.
DHA and brain development go hand-in-hand, and when you give your child DHA, you help normal physical brain development.DHA is an important building block of the brain.
Brain growth will be about 85% complete by age 3.
Infant brain development is rapid well into their first three years of age. Their brain will double in size by their first birthday.
DHA helps infant eyesight development.
When your baby is born, they can focus best on people and things that are close to them, but at four months, your baby’s vision rapidly improves, with a new ability to focus on an object several feet away1. Your baby may show new interest in playing with toys.
9 out of 10 doctors who would feed infant formula to their own children would use a DHA-enriched formula.
Some experts recommend that infant formula contain between 0.2 percent and 0.5 percent of total fatty acids. Enfamil A+ has a level of DHA recommended by global experts.
DHA, or Docosahexaenoic acid, is an Omega-3 fat found throughout the body and the most abundant Omega-3 fat in our brains. While some health trends advocate for cutting fat, Omega-3 fats are good fats, and DHA is a key building block for infant brain development. You can support your child’s brain development by including DHA in her diet. Learn more about the relationship between DHA and brain development, and how DHA helps support brain development in infants and eyesight development.
Benefits of DHA for Normal Brain Development
Infant brain development is rapid well into baby’s first three years of age. Your baby’s brain will double in size by their first birthday, and they’ll go from simply adjusting to life outside the womb, to showing you their favourite toys and exploring the world around them. Experts recommend a DHA-rich diet to provide additional support for brain growth, which will be about 85% complete by your toddler’s third birthday.
Our bodies can convert Omega-3 fats into DHA, but not efficiently. Therefore, a DHA-rich diet during their infancy can help them access this important nutrient. Some experts recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding women consume at least 200 mg of DHA daily to support brain development in infants1.
You can support your child’s brain development by eating fatty fish that are high in DHA such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring – or by taking DHA supplements. “If a woman is not breastfeeding her baby exclusively, she should choose an infant formula that contains DHA,” says Dr. Peter Nieman, an Alberta pediatrician.
A DHA-rich diet after pregnancy increases the amount of DHA available from breastfeeding. Breast milk naturally contains DHA, but the amount depends on your diet, and eating more fatty fish with DHA, or taking DHA supplements, can help them increase the amount available in your breast milk to support your infant’s brain development.
At six months old, your baby’s mental and physical skills will surprise and delight you as they reach for a treat, imitate your speech, and mimic simple behaviours and expressions3.
According to Dr. Bruce Holub, University Professor Emeritus and founder of the DHA/EPA Omega-3 institute, a number of clinical studies have shown that many infants given DHA have exhibited better cognitive performance, learning ability, and visual acuity as compared to infants not provided with DHA.
Benefits of DHA for Your Baby’s Eyes
DHA also helps infant eye development. Our retinas are rich in DHA, and vision is a critical part of focus. Babies are born near-sighted, but at five months old, vision and depth perception improve2. They’ll see in three-dimensions and even start to know a favourite teddy bear is still their teddy bear even when it’s upside down.
When your child arrives, help them get this important nutrient by including an expert recommended amount of DHA in your diet during breastfeeding, or by choosing DHA-enriched baby formula. In fact, 9 out of 10 doctors who would feed infant formula to their own children recommend a DHA-enriched formula to help cognitive development.
If you are choosing formula, not all DHA formulas in Canada contain the same amount of DHA and do not have an expert-recommended level of DHA. When choosing formula, look on the list of ingredients for DHA – listed by its full name – docosahexaenoic acid. Experts recommend that infant formula contain between 0.2 percent and 0.5 percent of total fatty acids, approximately between 7.2 and 18 mg of DHA per 100 ml of formula3. Enfamil A+ has a clinically proven level of DHA.