The First 1,000 Days

i-MED vision educates and motivates communities through providing access to health education and knowledge. In October, we will focus on the first 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s 2nd birthday.

This timeframe provides a very important foundation for lifelong health by investing in the well-being of mothers, babies and toddlers. In the short-term, it means more women and children survive and thrive. Longer term, it provides the foundation for children to develop to their full potential, setting them up for later success in school and in the workforce, and to live a healthy life.

Research in the fields of neuroscience, biology and early childhood development provide powerful insights into how nutrition, relationships, and environments in the first 1,000 days shape future outcomes. The costs of missing this window of opportunity are high.

What are the important aspects?

The correct diet (and nurturing environment for both mother and baby), building a bond with the parent or caregiver in a safe and loving environment as well as regular, stimulating play are crucial aspects of healthy child development. The right decisions about nutrition, the environment, safety and support for the pregnant mother play a key role in determining baby’s future happiness and success.

Here are some special tips:

  • Encourage eye contact and talk about everything you see with your child.
  • Play peek-a-boo and sign nursery rhymes.
  • Allow your toddler to explore a safe environment – curiosity is an important part of learning.
  • Allow time and opportunity for free play.
  • Establish a daily routine and be consistent.
  • Make sure your child’s muscles get lots of exercise by playing with him/her.
  • Allow playtime with other children.
  • Consult with your local clinic or doctor if your little one suffers from regular ear infections or a runny nose or if you have any concerns regarding your child’s development.

Let’s take hands and build more equal beginnings and put all children on track to flourish, when young children are well-nourished, cared for and protected from disease, violence and toxic stress, they have the best chance at a thriving future.

Follow our health column next week and learn more about the importance of nutrition in early brain development during the first 1000 days.