<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=246696873141607&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

The Eating Journey

The window of opportunity: What is it?

Like talking and walking, acquiring a love healthy food is something baby learns. How can you get your child to choose peppers over pizza?  

There’s a unique Window of Opportunity during baby’s first 1,000 days of life that is the ideal time to establish a healthy relationship with food and influence lifelong health. Here’s what you need to know about this important time of a child’s life.

What is the ‘Window of Opportunity’?

The first 1,000 days of life, from conception until age 2, are when the foundations for good health are built. Optimal nutrition during this Window of Opportunity is key for future good health. Good nutrition in these first 1,000 days lowers baby’s risk of developing diet-related illnesses later in life, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Moms play a crucial role during this time. Baby is first exposed to flavors through amniotic fluid and their sense of smell develops during the first trimester. When mom eats lots of nutrient-dense food, essential nutrients and new flavors are transferred to baby.

Baby is usually more accepting and willing to try new foods before the age of 1, so flavors and textures introduced early help develop a confident eater.

Evidence also suggests food fussiness and overeating increases and acceptance of new foods and flavors decreases, if baby isn’t introduced to lumpy foods before 8 months old.

Benefits of the Window of Opportunity

Supporting a healthy relationship with food during the first 1,000 days improves overall health. Here’s how:

Encourages proper brain growth and development

From conception until their 2nd birthday, baby’s brain grows faster than at any other time, reaching 80% of its adult size by age 3.

Baby’s emotional, cognitive, and motor skills also start to develop in the first 1,000 days and are supported through good nutrition.

Aids physical development

A diet packed with macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and micronutrients, including essential vitamins and minerals, provides baby with the nutrition they need for physical growth.

Good nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life supports good weight gain and helps baby reach their developmental milestones.

Supports the growing immune system

Good nutrition early in life helps to program the immune system to develop and perform its job properly.

Baby’s gut health also influences their developing immune system as most immune cells are found inside the gut. A nutrient-dense diet supports a healthy gut and lowers baby’s risk of asthma, eczema, and other allergies.

Establishes healthy eating habits

Healthy eating habits developed in the first 1,000 days are usually carried into adulthood. Children who learn what’s healthy, how to enjoy food in moderation, and to stop eating when full are on a great path to lifelong good health.

How to take advantage of the Window of Opportunity

Use the first 1,000 days to give baby the best start in life.

Start with pregnancy

Pregnancy is an ideal time to focus on eating well to influence early food preferences.

If it works for mom and bub, breastfeeding is best. Breast milk contains all the nutrients baby needs for about the first 4­-6 months and flavors from mom’s diet are transferred through breast milk and help with early flavor training.

But we know breastfeeding doesn’t go smoothly for everyone, so don’t worry, there’s still lots of time to optimize baby’s health. When baby is aged 4-6months introduce tiny amounts of single vegetables to kick-start early flavor training.

Offer a variety of flavors and textures across all food groups

As we now know, the more flavors and textures baby is introduced to, the more they will prefer healthy foods. 

Offer baby a variety of age-appropriate vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy products, and lean meats. Try different flavor combinations and add herbs and spices but be mindful of added salt.

Offer foods again and again. Chances are baby won’t like every new food the first time they try it but keep offering it. It may take baby 10-15 times to accept a new food.

And remember, the first few months of solids isn’t about nutrition, it’s about taste experiences to help develop healthy food preferences.

Avoid rewarding good behavior with sweet food

Make healthy eating the norm and not something rewarded with a sweet treat afterwards. And follow baby’s lead in the early days—you can offer healthy foods but it’s up to baby to control their own intake. 

Understanding the impact nutrition has during the Window of Opportunity is empowering, and parents can positively influence baby’s long-term health with simple, healthy food choices.

Disclaimer: The information provided is the opinion of Good Feeding, it has not been evaluated by healthcare professionals, and is for educational purposes only.  Before starting any new foods or feeding practices, please consult your baby's healthcare professional.

SUBSCRIBE TO UPDATES



A taste of what you'll discover

Creating healthy and happy eaters

  • You provide, let baby decide. You provide what foods are on offer, and baby decides when they have had enough
  • Keep mealtimes happy and stress free
  • Remove unnecessary distractions such as TV or devices
  • Ensure baby is sitting comfortably and facing other family members
  • Role model healthy eating at every opportunity.
  • Respond to hunger and fullness cues and leave behind expectations of how much you want baby to eat. 
  • Feed slowly, encouraging baby to eat and never resorting to bribery
  • Avoid unhealthy foods you know baby will eat to ensure they ‘just eats something’
  • Only offer food for hunger and not for any other reason

Disclaimer: The information provided is the opinion of Good Feeding, it has not been evaluated by healthcare professionals, and is for educational purposes only. Before starting any new foods or feeding practices, please consult your baby's healthcare professional.

Read more

Creating a veggie lover

  1. Pack in those veggies when you’re pregnant and breastfeeding

    Baby’s flavour journey begins in the womb surrounded by your amniotic fluid. Breastfeed if possible to continue the flavour journey through your breast milk.

  2. Begin Flavor training at around 4-5 months

    Flavor training starts before baby needs solids for nutrition. A ‘taste’, 1/2 teaspoon, is all that is required, after a milk feed.

  3. Vary your Veggies

    • Introduce a wide variety of vegetables spanning the whole flavor spectrum. Being sure to include plenty of bitter vegetables (broccoli, spinach, brussels sprouts).
    • Try offering a new ‘taste’ every 1-2 days In all different forms (warm, cold, puree and after 6 months as finger foods)
  4. No health by stealth

    Offer single vegetables where possible, especially in the first few months of flavor training. Avoid hiding ‘unliked’ foods in ‘liked’ foods.

  5. Repetition, repetition, repetition

    If baby doesn’t like it the first time offer again and again. It can take up to 10 times before acceptance. Don’t be put off by funny faces baby is just getting used to something new. Continue to offer again and again, throughout infancy, toddlerhood and the preschool years

  6. Be a healthy eating role model

    Be a positive role model at all ages and stages, show baby just how delicious those veggies are. Avoid allowing your own likes or dislikes, wants and expectations get in the way.

Disclaimer: The information provided is the opinion of Good Feeding, it has not been evaluated by healthcare professionals, and is for educational purposes only. Before starting any new foods or feeding practices, please consult your baby's healthcare professional.

Read more

Stress & anxiety in the age of Covid-19

People around the globe are facing uncertainty to a degree not felt within most of our lifetimes. No one knows what the state of the world or their lives will be one year from now. From job loss to the loss of family, friends, or personal health, it’s hard not to feel stressed.

Read more

Protecting baby (and you) during the pandemic

Becoming a new parent has always been a period of heightened emotions and uncertainty. During the Covid-19 crisis, parents-to-be and new parents face unique challenges, increasing feelings of uncertainty and worry.

Read more