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Optimal Nutrition in the First 1000 Days

Overview | Pregnancy | Infancy | Early Childhood | Conclusion

Optimal Nutrition in the First 1000 Days

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Optimal Nutrition in the First 1000 Days

Our health depends on the nutrition we receive in the first 1,000 days. The first 1,000 days refers to the phase that starts from a women's pregnancy and her child’s second birthday. These provide the foundation for lifelong health. Our health is shaped as well as affected by the external environment which includes the food we eat to the exposure to stress and adversity.

A research has shown that the first 1,000 days have a great impact on how our bodies and immune system are going to develop, and as well decide our predisposition to diseases later in life. It has also been suggested that the health effects of poor nutrition and adverse experiences early in life can pass down from one generation to the next.

The well-being of the mother and her child are closely linked throughout the first 1,000 days. Thus, it is very important that women have proper nutrition, care and support that they require for healthy and prosperous future of themselves and their children.

The first 1,000 days that be divided into three phases, that is, pregnancy (woman carries the baby for a period of nine months in her womb), infancy and early childhood.


Pregnancy is the condition where a woman carries the baby in her womb for a time period of nine months. This is the first phase where the development of the child initiates as well as marks the beginning of a healthy future.

During pregnancy, there are several factors that have a powerful effect on the child's future health state. These factors comprise of the pregnant woman’s diet, the rate at which she gains weight, her physical and mental well-being, her environment and her lifestyle habits. They influence how a child’s metabolism, immune system, and organ functioning begin to develop. They can also affect whether a child is born prematurely or at a low birth weight. The outcomes have a lasting impact on a child’s health well into adulthood.

It has also been suggested that diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and stroke have their origins in pregnancy. Prenatal nutrition plays an important role in whether a child becomes susceptible to these and other illnesses later in life. It has also been found that babies start to develop food preferences in the womb with implications for lifelong eating habits.


During the phase of infancy, the mother's milk is the food that plays an important role in developing a baby's immune system (immunity) as well as protects the mother's health.

Breastfeeding is the healthiest way in which the baby starts its life. The milk comprises of antibodies, stem cells and other unique qualities. Breast milk acts as babies' first vaccine. It protects the child from infections, conditions such as SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome), and diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia by developing immunity. It also lowers the risk of developing obesity later in life. As far as for the mother it is extremely important, reduces woman’s risk of heart disease, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes and depression.

It is highly recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) that for the first six months babies' should be breastfed, that is, fed only breast milk with no solids or other liquids. It also recommends that babies continue to breastfeed, along with eating nutritious foods, for at least 24 months as this provides both mom and baby with the greatest health benefits.

Early Childhood

It is very essential for a young child to grow well as well as gain appropriate amount of weight and height. This shapes lifelong health of the growing child.

This is the phase where lifelong eating habits are established. The growing child should eat a variety of protein-rich foods, fruits and green vegetables, whole grains, unsweetened milk and other dairy products. A healthy and nutritious diet is essential for the overall health of the child.


The first 1,000 days play a major role on as to how our future will be, will it be healthy and prosperous or will be burdened with ill-health and diseases. Thus, the journey towards a healthy and prosperous life starts from the very first day of our existence.

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