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Days 1 - 1000

Why the first 1,000 days are so vital

The time from conception until around baby’s 2nd birthday (the first 1,000 days) provides a unique window of opportunity to lay the foundations for lifelong good health.

1,000 days might sound like a long time, but with so many amazing firsts you and baby will experience together time really flies by! Thankfully, with a little knowledge about how important good nutrition is during the early years, parents can easily make the most of this time and give baby the best start in life.

The master plan for baby’s health is designed during their first 1,000 days of life - from conception until the age of 2. Early experiences with food helps to shape lifelong food preferences and can help reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other diet-related conditions later in life.

Unsurprisingly, good nutrition is key to making the most of this window of opportunity - starting with what mom eats during pregnancy. Breastfeeding and the early introduction of a range of nutrient-dense foods help to establish healthy eating habits and supports baby’s overall growth and development.

Training healthy eating habits

What baby learns about food in the first 1,000 days influences the nutrition choices they make later in life. In fact, between 50-60% of food preferences a child has when aged 2 to 3 are the same as when they are 17-22 years old. The earlier you can start offering healthy food options, the more you’ll be priming their palate for healthy choices later in life. Introducing baby to a range of different flavors, textures, and foods before age 2 can help develop healthy eating habits.

Providing for baby’s nutritional needs

Baby’s brain development, immune system, and overall physical growth all rapidly develop during baby’s first few years. And again, good nutrition—a diet packed with vegetables, whole grains, dairy, protein, and fruit—supports this growth and helps to cement lifelong good health.

Supporting healthy brain development

At birth, baby’s brain is about one quarter the size of an adult’s. During the first 1,000 days, their brain grows faster than at any other time, reaching 80% of its adult size by age 3 and baby’s emotional, cognitive, and motor skills also start to develop. Good nutrition, together with a safe and nurturing environment, stimulation, and loving relationships, supports rapid cellular growth and early brain development.

Breast milk or formula first provides baby with essential nutrients, complemented with nutrient-dense foods as baby transitions to solids.

Supporting a growing immune system

Baby’s immune system needs time after birth to learn to recognize what microbes are good and which ones are harmful. Thankfully, antibodies (immune system proteins that help to protect against bacteria and viruses) are passed from mom to baby to temporarily protect baby while their immune system develops. These antibodies are first transferred from mom to baby from the placenta and then through breast milk, especially in colostrum.

Good nutrition helps to support this early development of the immune system and to make sure it’s programmed to do its job properly.

Every baby needs the right amount of nutrients to gain weight and reach their developmental milestones. Whether baby packs on the pounds right from birth or is more a slow and steady weight gainer, all babies need proper nutrition to flourish.

Without a diet rich in macro and micronutrients, baby is more at risk of developing poor cognitive skills, delayed growth and motor development, and has an increased risk of long-term health conditions including obesity and heart disease later in life.

Good nutrition right from day 1 supports every aspect of baby’s health and sets baby on a healthy path for life.

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.

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