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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Nutrition to Support Healthy Growth | 15 and vegetables and other healthy foods in the meals and snacks you provide young children. And all fresh produce, whether organic or not, needs thorough washing before it is eaten or prepared (go to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA] website at www.fda.gov for more information). As you develop a policy for using conventionally produced or organically grown foods in your program, consult chapter 5, which provides information on establishing policies for early childhood programs. Infants and Toddlers Need Good Nutrition to Support Brain Development While most brain development takes place before birth, young children’s brains do continue to actively grow and develop during their first year and beyond. When infants and young children are chronically under- nourished, their brains are often smaller than normal, with fewer and less well-developed brain cells. Adequate nutrition in addition to mental stimulation and a nurturing environment is necessary for infants’ and children’s optimal intellectual, physical, and social development. Some companies promote special “brain foods” that claim to maxi- mize infants’ and young children’s IQs. Too often, such claims are exag- gerated marketing ploys based on sketchy evidence. What we know for sure is that breast milk promotes optimal brain growth for infants up to six months of age. Around this age, infants’ internal iron stores become depleted, and they need high-iron foods or supplements in addition to breast milk to get enough iron to keep their brains and bodies growing normally. Iron-fortified formula is recommended for non-breast-fed in- fants for similar reasons. Other nutrients critical to supporting the normal brain growth of infants and young children include protein and fat. Studies show that a type of fat called omega-3 (fat that is high in certain fatty acids called docosahexaenoic acid [DHA], eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA], and alpha- linolenic acid [ALA]) is important for early development of an infant’s brain and eyes (National Institutes of Health and U.S. National Library of Medicine 2009). Omega-3 fats are found in fish oils, certain nuts, canola, soybeans, and flaxseed, and are added to many brands of baby foods and formulas. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL