Why Choline is Crucial for Baby and Toddler’s Brain Development

Choline is a crucial nutrient for proper brain development, but did you know most toddlers and babies don’t consume the recommended daily amount? Choline is essential during the early stages of life. Think from womb time through toddlerhood. This makes choline intake in pregnancy critical. And most pregnant women aren’t eating enough. Choline is also present in breast milk. So, if a woman is breastfeeding, she can pass the nutrient to her baby.

Choline is a mineral that can be made in the body, but not enough for maximum health for a toddler or baby. We have to consume choline through diet. Choline deficiency can contribute to liver and heart disease, along with neurological disorders. Insufficient choline early in life can affect infant brain development and infant memory.

Choline is critical for proper brain function

Daily Choline Recommendations for All Ages

Birth to 6 months: 125 mg

Infants 7-12 months: 150 mg

Children 1-3 years: 200 mg

Children 4-8 years: 250 mg

Children 9-13 years: 375 mg

Teen boys 14-18 years: 550 mg

Teen girls: 14-18 years: 400 mg

Men 19+ years: 550 mg

Women 19+ years: 425 mg

Pregnant teens and women: 450 mg

Breastfeeding teens and women: 550 mg

Foods High in Choline

Foods high in choline are beef liver, fish, shiitake mushrooms, poultry, and egg yolks. And, one whole egg contains almost the daily recommended amount for infants and young children.

Choline content of selected foods taken from the National Institute of Health website
Choline content of selected foods taken from the National Institute of Health

Eggs are an Excellent Source of Choline for a Baby or Toddler

When it comes to babies and toddlers, eggs are often an easy and well-liked high-choline food. Once an infant turns six months and is cleared for solids, you can start serving eggs. Eggs are one of the top food allergens, so if introduced to a baby for the first time, start small and watch for signs of an allergic reaction or sensitivity.

Start making an omelet for a baby 6-9 months, cooking the inside thoroughly. Around 9-12 months, a baby’s pincer grasp starts forming. This means they can begin to grab objects easier. Start making an omelet, but cut the omelet into rectangular strips—then cut into bite-sized squares. Avoid hard-boiled eggs until a baby is over nine months since they can be more challenging to eat and a potential choking hazard.

1 large egg provides 147 mg of choline, almost the daily recommended amount for a toddler
Eggs are one of the best sources of choline for meeting recommendations

Directions for Cooking Eggs on the Stove for Infants

  1. Crack the egg in a bowl and whisk (hint, my baby always loved to help whisk!) Also, a great time to add a dash of turmeric!
  2. Spray the pan with an olive oil spray.
  3. Pour egg mixture in and cook on medium-low.
  4. Once eggs are firm, use a spatula to fold them in half to make an omelet.
  5. Cook the eggs for a little longer until the inside is fully cooked.
  6. Take the omelet out of the pan and cut it into finger-length strips (or quarters for kids 9 months and up)
How to cook eggs for baby or toddler
How to Cook Eggs for your Baby or Toddler

Like this content? Check out my post on Toddler and Infant Food labels!