It’s nearly impossible to flip through a parenting magazine without seeing handfuls of ads about products that contain DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that occurs naturally in breast milk and is believed to support healthy brain development. DHA is used to fortify formula, infant cereals, yogurts and other forms of nutrition; it’s also available as a supplement for moms and babies. And, DHA is widely used for toddlers and older children whose brains, of course, are still growing and developing every day.
How do you figure out what kind of DHA your child needs? It’s as simple as ABC:
A. Add a DHA supplement to your baby’s diet if you’re not breastfeeding and not using a formula that is fortified with DHA. Childlife Pure DHA comes in a non-fishy berry flavor that babies and children adore. For toddlers and older children, yummy gummies make DHA supplementation a breeze. Country Life Dolphin Pals DHA Gummies come in three flavors and contain 100 mg of DHA per serving. Coromega Omega 3 Kids makes squeeze packs in a fun orange flavor so you can squeeze 200 mg of DHA right into their little mouths (recommended for kids ages 4 and older only).
B. Breastfeed if possible, for as long as makes sense for you and your family. There’s simply no better, more pure source of DHA and dozens of other essential nutrients than your own breastmilk—and the other benefits, from bonding with your baby to springing back to your pre-pregnancy shape, are without limits. Breastfeeding moms can take a DHA supplement like Carlson Mother’s DHA to enhance the quality of their milk. A number of DHA products that are labeled as “prenatal” supplements are also a good choice for nursing mothers. Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA is a customer favorite because it’s “fishy burp free.”
C. Choose DHA-fortified foods when possible. Happy Baby makes an organic oatmeal cereal that contains DHA, as well as pre & probiotics and choline (another nutrient supporting eye and brain development.) Check the label when you’re shopping to make sure that whatever you feed your child has optimum nutrients—our little ones have little tummies, so we have to consciously choose to make every bite count by avoiding empty calories whenever possible and choosing superfoods instead!
Jorie Mark is the Creative Director for Vitacost.com and mother to three children, ages 2 to 10.