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Giving Your Baby the Best Start in Life: The First 1,000 Days and Why This Is Crucial

If there is one period in your child’s life that makes the most remarkable impact, it is the first 1,000 days. This just might be the most critical stage of their life, and it starts from the moment they were conceived inside your womb and ends after their second year. 

It is possible that everything that happens during the first 1,000 days of your baby’s life creates lifelong outcomes, most of which are irreversible.

Parents and parenting experts may not agree on a lot of things, like breastfeeding and vaccination, but it is amazing to note that the significance of a baby’s first 1,000 days remains to be universally acknowledged.

Suffice to say, no other life stage comes close when it comes to this period’s effect on your baby’s physical, mental, and emotional development.

You play a very crucial role during this crucial period. They will rely on you for proper nourishment, nurturing, and support. During pregnancy, you will nourish your baby through your diet. Later on, during their first and second year, it is still you who decides how and what to feed them. And from pregnancy to their second year – and beyond – they will need you to nurture and support them.  

Your baby thrives on love, and it is up to you to give them the love they need. How do you make the most out of their first 1,000 days and give them the best start in life?  

Pregnancy: The First 270 Days 

The first 1,000 days of your baby’s life starts from the very moment they formed inside your womb. All the decisions you make throughout your pregnancy create long-lasting effects on your baby’s nourishment. Poor nutritional intake during pregnancy can be connected to a child’s health problems like obesity and other chronic diseases.

Not eating enough during pregnancy also has tremendous impacts. Low calorie intake may hinder the development of the baby’s brain. Aside from that, it may also cause birth defects and developmental delays. On the other hand, eating too much during pregnancy may predispose the baby to obesity and lifestyle diseases like diabetes.

How do you make sure that you have a healthy pregnancy? Here are some basic things to keep in mind:

  1.   Eat a well-balanced diet.
  2.   Get at least 8-10 hours of sleep a day.
  3.   Don’t skip your doctor’s appointments.
  4.   Take your vitamins and folic acid.
  5.   Talk to your child in-utero.
  6.   Play classical music.
  7.   Avoid stress.

Year 1: The Next 365 Days

The next phase of your baby’s first 1,000 days begins from the day of their birth and ends during their first birthday. During this period, a lot of dramatic physical and mental changes occur. The brain develops rapidly during your baby’s first year, forming not only cognitive abilities but also motor skills. 

Because growth is naturally dependent on the nourishment the child receives, it is very important to feed them right. It is also vital to note that during this phase, the brain is vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies. Thus, to ensure that the brain develops properly, your baby should be eating a well-balanced diet.

Here are some of the things you should be doing during your baby’s first year: 

  1.   Breastmilk exclusively for at least the first six months of your baby’s life.
  2.   If not breastfeeding, give your baby formula, not cow’s milk.
  3.   Remember to do tummy time to strengthen their muscles.
  4.   Stimulate your newborn’s developing senses using age-appropriate toys, books, and supplies.
  5.   Make a lot of skin-to-skin contact.
  6.   Read them bedtime stories.
  7.   When solid feeding, introduce a variety of healthy and mineral-rich foods.
  8.   It’s also important to focus on giving iron-rich foods.  
  9.   Avoid feeding them sugary foods and juices.
  10. Give your baby their required vitamins and supplements.
  11. Don’t skip your appointments with your pediatrician.

Year 2: The Next 365 Days

Finally, the last phase of your baby’s first 1,000 days begins after their first birthday and ends when they turn 2. Similar to your baby’s first year, their brain continues to grow rapidly during the second year. The changes that occur during this period determine their IQ, language skills, and performance in school.

Proper nourishment remains to be key in unlocking your child’s potentials during the second year. This is also a good time to start teaching them basic language and math skills. Also, because your baby is becoming more and more conscious of their surroundings, it’s essential to give them a loving and nurturing environment.

Here are some of the things that you are encouraged to do during your baby’s second year:

  1.   Continue breastfeeding your child if you can.
  2.   Give your child an iron-rich diet to promote the development of their brain and prevent iron deficiency.
  3.   Offer a wide variety of foods and encourage them to expand their palate.
  4.   Offer 2-3 snacks a day but avoid processed and sugary foods.
  5.   Spend a good amount of time each day for active play. Let them run around!
  6.   Continue reading books to them and gradually progress from bedtime reading to active reading.
  7.   Encourage them to scribble and doodle on paper.
  8.   Encourage pretend play.
  9.   Schedule play dates with other children.
  10. Let them do activities that help them fine-tune their motor skills.
  11. Talk to your child all the time and using real words.
  12. Involve them in activities and chores that hone their social skills.

 

The first 1,000 days of your baby’s life may be the most remarkable, but it can also be the most vulnerable. A lot of responsibilities will fall onto your shoulders during this period; however, remember that ensuring that your baby gets the best start in life is the key that will unlock their amazing potential!

Featured image by Iuliia Bondarenko from Pixabay
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