Importance of Nutrition in First 1000 Days of Life

Body Body
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Ria Wahi
3 years ago

The first 1000 days of a baby’s life i.e. from the time it is conceived in the mother’s womb till its 2nd birthday are extremely important. Baby’s brain begins developing on the 16th day of it’s conception. By the 2nd trimester, the baby is already dreaming and thinking. As the baby reaches the fourth week in the womb, there are already more than 10,000 cells in the brain and by 24th week, there are 10 billion cells in the brain. At birth, the number of brains cells increase to 100 billion. Thus, it is a very important time period for a baby’s growth and future health. It is the foundation on which the future of a person stands.

So, what are the steps to be taken to ensure proper development during this phase? 

Nutrition: The baby’s body parts are under development in the mother’s womb so the nutrient needs of the body are high. To ensure healthy 1,000 days, early detection of the pregnancy is the key. Regular ante-natal check-ups are a must.

Proper nourishment during pregnancy should be given to the mother. Lack of adequate nutrition can cause irreversible damage to a child’s growing brain, affecting her ability to do well in school and earn a good living. It can also set the stage for later obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases which can lead to a lifetime of health problems. Three nutrients are considered crucial, namely iron, iodine, and zinc. Any deficiency of these nutrients during the first 1,000 days can cause irreversible damage. Hence every mother to be is advised to to take iron and folic acid tablets during pregnancy.

Hygiene: It is important that the mother remains away from infections because if she gets ill, the child will also be impacted. Hand washing with soap is the most cost-effective way to ensure hygiene and prevention of infections. 

Breastfeeding: needs to be initiated within the first hours of the birth. The colostrum (first milk of the mother) is yellow in colour and thick in consistency. The milk has properties that can protect the child from various infections and thus must be given to the child. Baby needs to be breastfed exclusively in the first six months and breastfeeding must be continued in for two years along with complementary feeding.

Immunisation: must not be ignored. The mother has to be vaccinated during pregnancy to avoid infections being transmitted to the child. The child must be vaccinated after birth to keep it safe from deadly diseases like smallpox, tetanus, diarrhoea, respiratory pneumonia, and others. 

Stress free environment: The mother’s thought process, eating habits and her stress are all passed on to the baby in the womb. The child is affected by the outside world even when it is inside. So the mother should be provided a stress free environment during her pregnancy. Once the child becomes a part of the outside world, the child must be made used to the new environment slowly and steadily. ‘Kangaroo care’ in which the mother holds the baby close to her chest, helps in synchronising the respiration of the mother and baby, making it feel secure.

Weaning: After six months of exclusive breastfeeding, introduce other foods to meet the increasing nutrition demand of the body. Breastfeeding should to continue for two years and beyond, if possible. Since the child is used to the taste of the breast milk, so it may take time to adapt to new tastes from outside food. Parents must be patient during this phase even if the child rejects food at first. Regular exposure to new tastes will gradually make them like it. 

Ensuring the above points can go a long way in laying a good foundation for your child. 

Stay Tuned! Stay Relevant!

This article has been reviewed by our panel. The points, views and suggestions put forth in this article have been expressed keeping the best interests of fellow parents in mind. We hope you found the article beneficial.
• body
• health
• importance
• nutrition
• first 1000 days