We all know that it’s important to eat well and look after yourself during pregnancy – for both you and your growing baby. But did you know that it doesn’t only matter till the day your baby is born? And that, in fact, what you eat and drink during pregnancy can affect your baby’s health and well being for their whole lives?
From pregnancy to toddlerhood, the nutrition your baby receives can influence their future health – even as adults
In fact, from the moment of conception right through to a baby’s second birthday a Mum has a critical window of opportunity to affect that baby’s health now and into the future. The 9 months of pregnancy (270 days) and the first 2 years (365 + 365 ) add up to the First 1000 Days – getting the right nutrition for the baby during this time will give them the best chance of reaching their potential as children and also to live a long life as healthy adults.
The Mums diet during pregnancy and what she feeds her baby during these first 1000 days may affect a child’s risk of growing up to be an overweight child or even an obese adult. It may also even affect the child’s risk of developing heart disease or diabetes as an adult.
Hard to believe? Well the scientists have been able to show us that this is the case again and again since it was first discovered by Professor David Barker. The long-term impact of these first 1000 days was first introduced to some controversy in the 1990s but is now very well established – in the womb the baby’s development is strongly influenced by the environment around it in terms of nutrition. And after birth, the benefits of breastfeeding and a nutritious and varied diet up to the age of 2 years have very far reaching consequences.
Good nutrition during pregnancy, exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and good weaning practices, combined with a good toddler diet, can all provide the building blocks for the very best growth and development. We all want our children to be the healthiest, brightest and strongest they can be – and these 1000 days give us the best chance to achieve just that.
It is important that Mums, Dads and everyone involved in the health and well-being of Mums and babies are aware of the importance of nutrition during the first 1000 days of life.