Pregnancy
5th Aug 2020

The first 1,000 days of your child’s life is the first and very best opportunity to shape their lifelong health. Experts agree that this window (which spans from the moment of conception to their second birthday) has a huge impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and thrive (1, 2).

What makes it so important?

Pregnancy 270 Days

The pregnancy journey is extraordinary for both the mum-to-be and her growing baby. In nine short months, a handful of tiny cells grow to become a little human that’s ready to take on the world.

During pregnancy, your baby requires a rich supply of all the essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids (1).

Your baby depends on your diet as their only source of nutrition. Research shows that poor diet during pregnancy and the effects on a baby can never be reversed. A healthy pregnancy lays a strong foundation to support your child’s lifelong health (3).

Year One 365 Days + Year Two (365 Days)

During the first two years of your child’s life, rapid growth and development takes place. Good nutrition during this time helps to ensure the healthy development of their body and, most importantly, their brain.

At birth, a baby’s body weight is 5% that of an adult’s, however their brain is already at 25% of its adult size (4). This vital organ is crucial for a child to learn to walk, talk, read and take on new challenges (5, 6).  By just two years of age their brain reaches 80% of its adult size.

Your child’s healthy brain development depends on vital nutrients. When their brain doesn’t get adequate amounts of these essential nutrients, it lacks the building blocks it needs to grow to its full potential, demonstrating how important a healthy diet is for a growing baby (6).

How To Optimise This Unique Window Of Opportunity

Nutrition – Start Healthy Habits From A Young Age

Researchers agree that proper nutrition during a child’s first 1,000 days helps them to grow to their full potential.

Breastfeeding is the best way to support a baby’s growth, immunity and gut health. But, when this is not an option, a high-quality baby formula is a good alternative.

From six months of age, solid foods can also be introduced. At this age it is important to choose a wide range of healthy and nutritious foods for your child, to suit their needs. After all, good infant and childhood nutrition is one of the most important and influential factors for a child’s future health and development (7, 8).

Bond For Life - Create A Happy Environment

In addition to a healthy diet, your child also requires a loving and supportive environment to help them grow (8).

While their brain develops, it is shaped by the experiences they have in their first few years of life. In order for them to learn, it’s important that your child feels safe, calm and protected.

In fact, it’s been shown that children with caregivers who respond to their needs in a consistent, caring, and timely way, go on to develop better social skills as adults (1).

A Healthy Child = A Healthy Future

During the first 1,000 days, parents have the power to set their baby on the best possible path for their future growth, development, and health.

A strong start sets a child up for a healthier, more successful future and research indicates that a healthy child will be better-adjusted, achieve better grades in school, and achieve greater success as an adult (9, 10).

References

  1. Moore, T, Arefadib, N, Deery, A, & West, S. (2017). The First Thousand Days: An Evidence Paper. Parkville, Victoria; Centre for Community Child Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
  2. 1,000 Days. (2018). Why 1,000 Days. Accessed 3 October 2018. < https://thousanddays.org/the-issue/why-1000-days/ >
  3. Karakochuk, C, Whitfield, K, Green, T, et al. (2018) The Biology of the First 1,000 Days. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.
  4. Huelke, D. (1998). An Overview of Anatomical Considerations of Infants and Children in the Adult World of Automobile Safety Design. Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, 42, 93-113.
  5. Tau, GZ & Peterson, BS. (2009). Normal Development of Brain Circuits. Neuropsychopharmacology, 35 (1), 147.
  6. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2018). Your Baby’s First 1,000 Days: AAP Policy Explained. Accessed 4 July 2019 < https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/Babys-First-1000-Days-AAP-Policy-Explained.aspx >
  7. Australian Government Department of Health. (2011). Introducing solids. Accessed 4 July 2019 < https://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/gug-director-toc~gug-solids >
  8. The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne. (2019). Strong Foundations: Getting it Right in the First 1000 Days. Accessed 4 July 2019 < https://www.rch.org.au/ccch/first-thousand-days/ >
  9. Healthy Moms Healthy Babies. (2019). The First 1,000 Days of Baby’s Life: Why Does It Matter. Accessed 4 July 2019 < https://www.hmhb.org/first-1000-days/ >
  10. (2015). 1,000 Days. Accessed 4 July 2019 < http://1000days.unicef.ph/ >

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