Did you know that the first 1000 days of a baby’s life are a great window of opportunity for setting the foundations of optimum health, growth, and neurodevelopment? The influence of baby’s health and learning environment during these 1000 days can last over his/her lifespan. Here’s giving you a detailed view of what your little bundle of joy requires from you in his/her first 1000 days.
As per the concept conceptualized by World Health Organization (WHO), the first 1000 days of a baby’s life are categorized in three stages:
270 days of pregnancy
365 days of baby’s first year
365 days of baby’s second year
First 1000 days of baby’s life
According to the American Academy of Paediatricians, by the age of 2 years, the brain develops into a complex organ that allows children to learn to walk, talk, and read. It’s ready for new changes and experiences, like learning maths, reasoning, and complex thought. But if the brain does not get the necessary experiences and nutrition especially during this time, it can miss out on certain important developmental processes.
Health and nutrition-At all three stages
First 270 days (Pregnancy)
Though the human brain continues to develop and change throughout life, the most rapid period of brain growth is in the last trimester of pregnancy and the first two years of life. The human brain at 5 months post-conception is a smooth, bi-lobed structure that looks somewhat like a coffee bean. By 9 months, i.e. term birth, it looks far more like the walnut-like adult brain. At birth, rapidly developing brain areas are, the visual and auditory cortices. Hence due care should be taken during pregnancy to make sure that your baby receives the right nutrition for optimum brain development at that stage.
According to an article by UNICEF, in the first year, there is rapid growth of the language processing areas as well as early development of the prefrontal cortex that controls “higher processing” such as attention, inhibition, and flexibility. Thus, this time period harbours the greatest opportunity to provide optimal nutrition to ensure normal development as it is also the time of greatest brain vulnerability to any nutrient deficit.
Just like the first year, even in the second year a child’s brain is develops rapidly. Children who don’t receive proper nourishment during this crucial period can suffer cognitive problems including slower language skills, lower I.Q. and poor school performance. Although many factors contribute to brain development in 1- to 2-year-olds, nutrition is considered to be an important factor. A toddler who’s given a conducive environment for learning is likely to achieve a number of cognitive and language milestones between 12 and 24 months.
The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) clinical report, The Power of Play: A Paediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children, states how and why playing with both parents and peers is essential for building thriving brains, healthy bodies, and social ties―all important in today’s world. Research shows that if the right type of stimuli is provided to the child during the first 1000 days of life, it helps with language, maths, reasoning and social skills.
Try these simple developmental activities for baby and toddlers to provide the right learning environment.
So get to the floor with your toddler and experience the joy of parenthood. Be alert and careful about your child’s nutritional needs and you are good to go….
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Originally published at mommysmagazine.com