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It’s science: Choline can boost your baby’s brain health

And here’s where to get more of it. 

It’s science: Choline can boost your baby’s brain health

As a mama-to-be, you know that a healthy diet benefits both you and baby. Now, new research suggests the importance of making sure you get enough choline during pregnancy—which can help boost fetal brain power.


A Cornell University study published in the Journal of the Federal of American Societies for Experimental Biology found a sufficient intake of choline—a vitamin-like essential nutrient that helps with memory and muscle control—can boost your baby’s brain health.

The recommended amount of choline for pregnant women is 450 mg per day, as established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Institute of Medicine. For the study, researchers divided 26 pregnant women into two groups, with one set of pregnant women receiving slightly more than the adequate daily intake (480 mg) and the other consuming more than double (930 mg).

After each mom gave birth, the scientists tested their newborn’s cognitive ability over the course of their first year of life. They found those babies in the second group processed information at significantly higher speeds.

Although the human study was small, the benefits on cognitive function were also replicated in tests with rodents.

But, despite the known cognitive benefits of choline, many pregnant women still consume less than the recommended amount, even though choline is vital during pregnancy, according to Healthline.

To up choline intake, pregnant women should include foods such as egg yolks, lean red meat, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts and cruciferous vegetables in their diets.

Eggs, by the way, may be key to better brain development for babies. A recent American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found infants aged 6 months and older who ate one egg a day had significantly higher blood concentrations of choline and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid that's a structural component of the brain and is essential to brain growth and function.

Lora Iannotti, the study’s lead author and associate dean for public health and associate professor at the Brown School at Washington University, says of the results, “Like milk or seeds, eggs are designed to support the early growth and development of an organism and are, therefore, dense in nutrient content.”

So, what’s a pregnant mama to do? Speak with your health care provider for recommendations on how to get more choline. Although more research is needed to understand choline’s full effect on fetal brain development, there’s enough evidence to show that the nutrient has a significant impact.

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

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Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

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