Why Nutrition Is Essential In First 1000 Days of A Child

Why is nutrition essential in the first 1000 days of a child’s life?

Experts say good nutrition is the foundation of life and it gives every child a fair chance for survival

Nutritionists consider the period between when a fetus is formed till delivery and up to two years of life as the very crucial time for every child.

Expert Says Good Nutrition, Rest Encourage Exclusive Breastfeeding

Explaining the concept of the first 1000 days in a child’s life, UNICEF’s Social and Behaviour Change Specialist (BCS), Aderonke Akinola-Akinwole described the days as “The period between conception and the second birthday of a child”.

According to Akinola-Akinwole 1000 days is calculated as 270 days (duration of pregnancy) + 365 (first birthday) + 350 (second birthday) in addition to about a month before conception takes place.

The Behaviour Change Specialist spoke at a media advocacy meeting for ” COVID-19 Vaccines COVAX and Routine Immunisation, RI Uptake in Lagos State” organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in collaboration with UNICEF.

In other words, “it is very important that ahead of conceiving a baby, a woman must nourish the womb that will carry the baby with food rich in iron and vitamins and by taking a supplement of Folic Acid.

Explaining further, Akinola- Akinwole said, “Indeed the first 1000 days of a child’s life forms the basis of the child’s survival and development and every mother must be taught how to prepare for this crucial period well ahead before conception”.

She must also continue to nurture the fetus by eating nutritious food for its healthy development and when the baby is born, exclusively feed him on breast milk for the first six months of life.

“After that, the baby is introduced to complementary family foods supported with breast milk up till two years of infancy”, Akinola-Akinwole noted.

The following are some of the scientifically proven reasons why the nutrition of a child in the first 1000 days of life is essential and cannot be taken for granted:

It presents the first window of opportunity to invest in the child’s chance to survive, be healthy, learn, and thrive.

Reasons Nutrition Is Important In the First 1000 Days:

It forms the basis for a child’s intelligence and personality as it is a sensitive period for brain and social development

This period is a period of massive body growth preventing stunting which can start from the womb

The ability of a child to be productive in the future thereby contributing positively to society is formed at this stage as his cognitive ability gets developed

Areas That Need Attention:

Maternal nutrition:- the quality of food the mother eats during pregnancy determines the health outcome of the baby. It is therefore advised that pregnant women attend at least four antenatal classes to be well-guided by trained midwives.

Early Initiation and Exclusive Breastfeeding:- it is essential to put the baby to the breast within 30 minutes to one hour after delivery to initiate bonding and production of the yellow colostrum, the first vaccine of life for the baby.

The baby is then exclusively fed on breast milk for the first six months of life for the full nutritional benefits required for an early start in life.

Infant and Young child feeding:- is the successful introduction of appropriate complementary foods of the family to the baby at six months.

This is because breastmilk alone is no longer adequate to support the growth and development of the baby.

Growth Monitoring:- it is essential that the baby is taken for all the routine immunization exercises right after birth where the progress of growth is measured, recorded, and monitored by the nurses.

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