If you haven’t been stressing about your little one’s highly specific eating habits and figure that she’ll just grow out of her picky, white-food-only eating phase, the 1,000 Days Foundation may have you rethinking your approach. According to the non-profit and its recent report, The First 1,000 Days: Nourishing America’s Future, those first 1,000 days, which include pregnancy and the time until a child’s second birthday, are a crucial time for nourishment and development and set the trend for health patterns and habits for many years to come. Offering helpful, accurate, nutritional information and accessible health services for babies are just a few tenets of the foundation, but 1,000 Days includes moms and their health needs as well, and even discusses the ripple effect that this short but important period of time has on society. Read more for details about the report — you won’t be able to look at your kid’s plate (or your own) in the same way.
The 1,000 Days Foundation casts a wide net on researching nutrition and health issues and has found that due to misinformation, misleading information, lack of support, financial woes, and societal trends, U.S. families are confused about what to feed their kids, struggle to provide food for their children, drink too many sugar-sweetened beverages, don’t eat enough vegetables, and have to contend with the fact that many moms don’t get paid leave to care for their newborns (which also may contribute to low exclusive breastfeeding rates). In the midst of this disheartening information, however, the foundation outlines elements that we can change in order to improve the first 1,000 days and set the trend for life.
We know that a mom’s diet during pregnancy has potentially major effects on her child’s health, and 1,000 Days is also focusing on how that diet plays a key role in aspects of her own health. As the U.S. maternal mortality rate has actually risen in recent years, with a belief that obesity and diabetes are elements influencing this unfortunate climb, health during pregnancy has received increased focus, and 1,000 days highlights the need for high quality prenatal care.
Once a child is born, the remaining seven hundred-plus days are also crucial for brain development, growth opportunities, and exposure to a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and other foods that will influence their later food choices and habits. In addition to providing Ten Building Blocks for Nutrition for the First 1,000 Days (including consistent access to enough nutritious foods for young families and introducing babies to the right foods at the right times), the report includes information about necessary vitamins and minerals, provides breastfeeding tips, and addresses several crucial areas for creating a healthier start for babies and mothers, such as access to high quality medical care and a variety of support opportunities for low-income families.
By improving nutrition during the first 1,000 days, the foundation believes that we can help close the gaps in areas including education and even earning potential as well as create healthier citizens. It has provided a great outline for how to address these issues. Now we need to adopt the guidelines that we have personal control over and support and speak out about the areas that require action on the part of institutions, businesses, and government.