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Why the First 1,000 Days are the Most Important

by Sesame Lane Admin on 29/07/2016 10:27:45 AM
Do you worry about the milestones your little one should be hitting, or that some days are more important than others? You’re not alone.
According to research the first 1,000 days of your child’s life (including pregnancy) are the most vital to their development. Leading experts are in agreement that these days are more important than any others for lifelong health and well-being. With that being said this article will walk you through:
  • The low down on the first 1,000 days
  • Why the first 1,000 days are so important
  • How you can make each day count with your child

So, What Are the First 1,000 Days? 

It’s from conception to their second birthday. These days are now considered the most important part. They will determine who your child is going to be and how healthy they will be throughout their lives.
What’s the major player in all of this? Nutrition.
More and more research is being presented on the importance of something called ‘epigenetics’. This means that what you eat, and your mental well being while pregnant is key to providing your unborn child with knowledge of the world outside the womb.
The first 1,000 days determine how your child will develop. How soon (and well) they will walk, talk, learn, and thrive throughout their lifetime.

Why Are These Days Key? 

Here are some key facts to why the first 1,000 days are so important to your child:
  • Almost half of all deaths of children under 5 are because of malnutrition
  • 170 million children have stunted growth of their bodies and brains because of chronic malnutrition
  • Being poorly nourished throughout your life (and pregnancy) puts you at greater risk of complications during childbirth
  • Poor nutrition in early life can be irreversible.
They are some slightly scary statistics and I won’t dwell for too long on the heavy stuff, but it’s important to know. Nutrition is really, really important during pregnancy and beyond.
Unfortunately, you won’t hear much about all this in mainstream media. Many health organizations are more focussed on getting children ready for school above anything else. This is seen as the ‘holy grail’ of successful early development. This means there is a risk of good nutrition being neglected.
In fairness health organizations have had a lot on their plates, curing diseases, creating vaccines and what not. But slowly and sure they are now becoming more focussed on nutrition and the role it plays in successful early development.
As I’ve said, poor nutrition can cause irreversible damage. So if the education surrounding nutrition doesn’t happen until your child gets to school, the damage is already done.
The knock on effects of poor nutrition such as stunted growth, whether physical or mental, can be huge and not just for your child, but for the society you live in. It may feel like one child isn’t a big deal, but lack of education on how important these first 1,000 days are can have a serious domino affect.
Poor nutrition is shown to cause stunted mental and physical development, this means a failure to thrive in education, which means lower job prospects and more health issues in adult life. In turn this causes a strain on the economy, whether it’s in healthcare costs or through a lack of work stability.
It may seem dramatic, but it is the reality of how important this all is. But thankfully the world is slowly coming the realisation that nutrition really is that important.


What Can You Do?

You want to do the best for your little one and there are ways you can educate yourself and those around you to the importance of these first 1,000 days.
As a mum one worry is being ‘that mum’ who brings their kids to parties with their dairy free, gluten and sugar free demands. But this is not the end of the world; in fact if that is you, more power to you, you may actually be doing the best thing for your child.
At the end of the day what you feed your child is completely up to you. Every parenting style is different and what works for one child may not work for another. But there are super simple ways to ensure you are providing your child with the best nutrition possible, starting with pregnancy.

Pregnancy and the Early Years

In pregnancy you have much more control over the nutritional signals your child is receiving. If you don’t particularly like broccoli but understand how good it is for your child, you can just eat it. You’re an adult.
However, children don’t really have the same ability to rationalise and understand the benefits of broccoli over their innate hatred for the vegetable. To make sure you’re feeding yourself and your children the right kind of nutrition, remember G.E.A.R.S:
  • Get plenty of the good fats
  • Eat fresh produce
  • Avoid processed food
  • Reduce sugar intake
  • Supplement
This is transferable to your child as much as to you; the only one I’d cut out for them is the supplementation. Kids don’t need supplements if they’re getting all the vitamins and goodness from fresh fruit and veg.
If you want your child to go gluten free by all means do it. It’s a personal choice and there is research to suggest there are benefits to cutting it out completely until your child’s digestive system has fully developed, especially if you have a history of celiac disease in your family.
But letting your kid have some cake at their friend’s birthday party, or a few biscuits at grandma’s is nothing to worry about.
Everything in moderation is definitely applicable here. Just make sure their diet weighs heavily on the side of fresh, nutritious and delicious food.

Education is Key 

Feeling unsure on how to start? Remember G.E.A.R.S and share this information with your friends, particularly those who are expecting.

“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.” - Brigham Young.

Nothing against our partners, fathers, brothers, sons, but the above quote is true and it’s your strongest weapon. Educate yourself; educate your friends, mothers, sisters and daughters. That’s what women do and we do it well.
We are slowly learning how important what we eat during pregnancy is, and that those first few years of your child’s life are incredibly important. A little nutritional education will go a long way and it will help your child lead a long, happy and successful life.