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6 Ways to Support Brain Development in the Womb

Naturally, you want the best for your baby. You may have researched baby gear, subscribed to every bump blog, and sought advice from friends and family. But not many people know that you don’t have to wait until your baby is born to help them develop their mind or support their growth.

In This Article 


Take a Hike

Food as Medicine

Supplement A Healthy Diet

Read to Your Bump

Get More Sleep

Get Geared Up

Common questions from new parents

Science tells us that there are certain things you can do to help enhance your baby’s brain development in the womb.

Although the thought of supporting your baby's prenatal brain growth might have you imagining yourself with headphones stretched around your bump playing Mozart or Beethoven, as it turns out, classical music doesn't do much in the way of improving your kids' intelligence. But here are six simple, research-supported ways to help boost your baby’s brain development in utero.

When does a Fetus Develop a Brain?



7 weeks

The rudimentary brain separates into three distinct parts; front brain, midbrain, & hindbrain

First Trimester

Neurons & synapses begin to develop in the spinal cord

Second Trimester

The brain takes control of bodily functions and breathing movements begin

Third Trimester

The brain separates into right and left halves and continues to grow rapidly

1. Take a Hike

    Well, it doesn’t have to be a hike, a 30-minute walk will do the trick! Exercising and staying active while pregnant is important for your body’s health, but studies show that it can also improve your baby’s brain function.

    From the experts

    Regular aerobic exercise during pregnancy is beneficial both for the mother and for the infant…studies demonstrated that the aerobic exercise during pregnancy improves brain functions of the offspring.”

    - Scientific World Journal, 2012

    Remember, always check with your doctor before incorporating a new exercise routine, especially during pregnancy. For some post-pregnancy exercise tips, check out 5 Exercises busy moms can do at home.


    2. Food as Medicine

      Since you have nine months of nourishing not only your own body but also your baby’s growing body ahead of you, let’s talk about food. Egg yolks are full of choline, (a recommended vitamin for pregnant women) which has been shown to improve learning and memory in babies when taken during pregnancy.
      Some studies have even shown that choline changes the structure of brain cells, making them more supportive for cognitive development.

      DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid) has also been associated with better brain development. You can find DHA in many prenatal supplements, but you can also get it by including fish like salmon and sardines (fish that contain less mercury) in your diet.

      "A 30 minute walk will do the trick exercising and staying active while pregnant, it is important for your body's health but studies show that it can also improve your baby's brain function."

      Remember: Always check with your doctor before incorporating a new exercise routine especially during pregnancy 2.

      3. Supplement A Healthy Diet

        Along with incorporating some vitamin-rich foods into your diet, make sure you add a prenatal supplement with Folate (A.K.A. B vitamin folic acid). Folic acid, or getting the right amount of Folate, helps babies to form healthy brain cells.

        4. Read to Your Bump

          Listening to classical music during pregnancy might not make much of a difference but talking to your baby can. Language learning begins in utero, and studies have shown that parents who talk and/or read to their babies throughout pregnancy promote early word recognition after they’re born, which could make them smarter! Get some ideas for a baby-friendly story time or even read your book club book out loud, just to get the sound of your voice going.

          5. Get More Sleep

            Remember, you’re sleeping for two, staying well-rested is incredibly important. Not only will sleep help boost your mood and fuel your immune system, but it also increases your chances for a healthy birth. With the right amount of sleep, your baby’s brain will have the time to properly grow in the womb and there’s less risk for post-birth developmental issues.

            From the experts

            “Protecting sleep during pregnancy is not only good for a mother’s health, but her child’s health as well.”

            - Michael J. Breus, PhD, Psychology Today

            6. Get Geared Up

              Of course, once your child arrives, their brain will still be developing — mostly during sleep. Continue their head start with our safely weighted Zen Sleepwear™. From their first swaddle to transitional sleepwear that adjusts to their sleep style as your children grow, Zen Sleepwear™ bundles set you up with options that support longer sleep at every stage.

              Tips to make your baby smarter before birth?[Infographic]

              make your baby smarter before birth

              Other resources

              Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Early Brain Development

     Child's Brain Development


              Common questions from new parents

              How to have a healthy baby in the womb?

              A big part of keeping your baby healthy in the womb comes down to how you maintain your own health and fitness during your pregnancy. Ensuring that you get the right nutrition and regular activity can help to improve the health outcomes of your child. It is also recommended that you do not smoke and that you avoid alcohol during pregnancy.

              What should I eat during pregnancy to make my baby intelligent?

              While intelligence is mainly due to genetics and environmental stimulus once the baby is born, some claim that certain foods can improve a babies cognitive abilities. The best foods are those that contain omega 3, such as fish, as they aid the development of brain cells.

              Does a baby's brain develop in the womb?

              Yes! Your baby's brain will start to develop in the womb. In the first trimester of your pregnancy, nerve connections will be formed and by the third-trimester more connections and brain tissue is formed.

              Which trimester is most important for brain development?

              Major structural brain development will take place up until around 16 weeks of pregnancy. However, your baby's brain will continue to develop throughout your entire pregnancy, so all trimesters are important.

              How do you know if a baby's brain is developing during pregnancy

              During your pregnancy, you will receive regular monitoring and scans to ensure that your baby's brain is developing. Another way to know is by watching out for fetal movement as, by the second trimester, the brain should begin to control some bodily functions.


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