Here’s a stat to get you going: 80% of the brain is developed by the age of three years old. And once you form those cells, you can’t get a “do-over” – you have those cells for the rest of your life.s. So the little one pooping their pants in the next room? Brain. Growing. Now.
So how can you support this insanely rapid growth and development? Infants and toddlers need more nutrients proportional to their body mass than during any other developmental stage of life, which is why we’re glad brands like Cerebelly exist.
Cerebelly was literally developed by a brain surgeon (!) and offers organic baby food jam-packed with nutrients specifically catered to how your babe’s brain and body are growing. Cerebelly is the only children’s food brand that offers science-backed, organic veggie-first baby foods delivering 16 key nutrients to nourish developing regions of a child’s brain. No other baby food comes close. So naturally, when we had questions about the nutrient-brain connection, we went straight to the source.
First off, does it really take a brain surgeon to develop an infant food option?
Dr. Teresa Purzner had spent her life studying the brain as a practicing neurosurgeon, and while working on her PhD at Stanford in neurobiology, her mission became to understand the factors that go into optimal brain development. And becoming a mama at the same time forced her to contextualize her work in a new way.
Knowing what she knew about the brain’s development, Dr. Purzner knew there were critical key nutrients for each upcoming milestone, and as a mom, she needed the convenience of premade food. After many trips down the baby food aisle, she could not find one brand that met even the most basic quality and nutrient requirements needed for optimal development.
So with the help of her brother Nick Langan, they decided to create a product that was so superior to baby food standards, they had to completely redefine them. After years of development with scientists, doctors, and nutritionists, Cerebelly was born— a first-of-its-kind food brand that satisfies parents, kids, and growing brains alike.
“What you’re feeding your child isn’t just a tasty treat, it’s years of trailblazing well beyond industry norms to provide the 16 key brain-supporting nutrients needed for early development, “ Dr. Purzner explains. “Meticulously sourced, organic vegetable-first recipes with no added sugar, that undergo rigorous testing for heavy metals and harmful toxins every step of the way.”
What – in laymen’s terms – is the exact connection between nutrients and the brain and growth?
According to Dr. Purzner, each brain region, as it grows, has specific nutritional requirements. “There are actually dozens of brain regions and in the early years, they are not growing uniformly. We know from MRI brain scan research that the various regions and processes of the brain grow and peak at different times.” She goes on to explain that providing the right mix of nutrients to help each of these different regions during the first three years of life helps to ensure your babe is getting the best of the best. “A nutrient-dense diet is important for brain growth and function but there are 16 essential nutrients that play a particularly important role during early development.”
Sixteen?! Is there a nutrient that stands out as the most important nutrient to focus on in infancy?
“When it comes to a child’s developing brain there isn’t a single nutrient that is most important,” explains Jackie Bertoldo, MPH, RDN, assistant director of nutrition & food choice architecture at Stanford University, and Co-developer of Cerebelly. “Nutrients in a child’s diet work synergistically to support different areas of the brain at key times when they are rapidly developing. Nourishing an infant’s growing brain is about delivering the right mix of nutrients at the right time.
What are the main things you can do to set an infant up for optimal brain development?
Providing a strong nutritional foundation coupled with nurturing care and age-appropriate mental and physical stimulation is essential for promoting optimal brain development at every age. It’s also important to minimize a child’s exposure to toxins in their environment – like heavy metals – which are detrimental to the brain. (Fun fact: Cerebelly is the first shelf-stable baby food to receive the Clean Label Project Purity Award which independently tests their foods for over 400 different contaminants including heavy metals, chemicals, plastics, pesticides, and other toxins.)
A question for a preggo mamas. Are there specific nutrients during pregnancy mamas can focus on that can support the baby’s brain?
“The fetal brain begins developing early in the first trimester of pregnancy,” Dr. Bertoldo explains. “A mother’s nutritional status can have a significant impact on the development of her baby, which is why it’s essential for pregnant women to take prenatal vitamins which are formulated with many of the nutrients that are important for a baby’s development. However, there are some key nutrients – like choline, lutein, and DHA – that are important for brain development and may not be found in prenatal vitamins. Consuming foods rich in these nutrients during pregnancy can help fill that nutrient gap.”
This article was written in partnership with Cerebelly.