The First 1,000 Days of life, from pregnancy through to two years of age, offers a unique window of opportunity to secure the long term health and development of an individual. Parents are encouraged to get the nutritional balance right during the first 1,000 days of life, as it is extremely important in helping intellectual development, whilst reducing the risk of obesity, Type II diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and allergies at later stages in life.*
The First 1,000 Days covers four key stages; pregnancy, breastfeeding, weaning and toddler. Danone Baby Nutrition is seeking to create a movement of support for the First 1,000 Days. It is calling on parents, parent to be and health care professionals to support the movement in order to drive awareness of the importance of nutrition in the First 1,000 Days so that behaviour can be changed for the benefit of future generations.
The initiative was launched earlier today in Dublin with husband and wife team, Neven and Amelda Maguire, who are the proud parents of twins, Connor and Lucia, 15 months old. Neven and Amelda are the ambassadors for the public awareness movement and will lend their support to a wide range of activities in the months ahead.
Speaking today at the launch of the First 1,000 Days movement, renowned Irish Chef, Neven Maguire said, “As a father with a young family, I’m very much aware of the importance of nutrition, especially at the formative time of life. During the first 1,000 days, from pregnancy right through to the toddler stage, it’s important that children are exposed to a wide range of foods so that their taste buds develop in a healthy way.”
“My wife, Amelda, and I know how hard it can be for families with young children to consistently provide the best nutrition, however providing optimum nutrition throughout the first 1,000 days doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Through my involvement with this important initiative, I aim to draw attention to the issue of infant and toddler nutrition while also helping to provide simple and cost effective solutions to the constant nutrition challenge.”
Aileen Regan, Medical Director, Danone Baby Nutrition added, “A growing body of research has highlighted the importance of good nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life. This research, combined with our awareness of the challenges parents face to get nutrition right during pregnancy and for infants and toddlers compelled us to act. We believe that we have a responsibility to raise awareness of the importance of nutrition at this critical time.
At Danone Baby Nutrition, we are committed to driving awareness of the importance of the first 1,000 days of life. It is our intention to positively communicate the simple measures Mums to be, and Mums and Dads can adopt in order to optimise their child’s health and guarantee long term benefits. We know how busy and difficult it can be for parents nowadays; as a result we are putting a huge emphasis on educating about good simple nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life in a friendly and easy to follow manner.
In response to the introduction of this First 1,000 Days initiative by Danone Baby Nutrition, National Lead in Paediatrics, Dr Alf Nicholson had the following to say, “we need to encourage healthy eating for pregnant mums , breast feeding in young infants and the establishment of a healthy toddler diet – all will improve the future health of our children”.
To celebrate the launch of the movement, Danone Baby Nutrition in partnership with the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute, unveiled the First 1,000 Days Recipe Book. This is full of recipes that will allow parents to optimise infant nutrition including recipes by Neven Maguire and by leading Irish Dietitians. The book aims to make it easier for people to optimise their children’s nutrition during this crucial phase of growth and includes a variety of recipes covering pregnancy, infant and toddler stages.
Log on today to view and download a copy of the recipe book at www.first1000days.ie
You can also check out the blog posts from Neven and Amelda Maguire, who will be regularly updating the site with seasonal top tips and healthy recipe ideas for busy mums and dads like themselves.
Full details about the First 1,000 Days and to join the movement log on to www.first1000days.ie
* Barker, DJP. (2012). Developmental Origins of Chronic Disease. Public Health 126 (3): 185-189
The First 1,000 Days covers three key stages from pregnancy, infancy through to toddler stage. The figure 1,000 is derived from 270 days during pregnancy, plus 365 days in years one and two of a child’s life.
Getting nutrition right during the First 1,000 Days is so important for a number of reasons including:
Stage 1: Pregnancy
- · By the time a baby is born, his or her brain will have over 100 billion neurons or nerve cells – the basis for their entire nervous system.
- · Nutrients pass from mum to baby in the womb and deficiencies can have implications for the baby’s future health and development. It is vital that pregnant women aim to eat a wide varied diet, ensuring they don’t miss out on key foods to nourish their growing baby.
- · While organs will of course grow after a baby is born, the heart, lung and kidneys are complete at birth so it is important that the right nutrients are provided for all of this organ formation during pregnancy.
Stage 2: Infancy
- · Breast milk is the ideal food for babies and it gives them all the nutrients they need for healthy development. In conjunction with a daily vitamin D drop which is essential given the low levels of vitamin D in Ireland.
- · Beyond the immediate benefits for children, breastfeeding contributes to a lifetime of good health. Adults who were breastfed as babies often have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, as well as lower rates of obesity and type II diabetes.
- · A baby’s birth weight doubles by 6 months and triples by 1 year so it is critical that the weaning diet is the best it can be to help support all of this growth and development.
- · By 6 months, an infant’s stores of nutrients such as iron, zinc and some fat soluble vitamins are decreasing – at this stage neither breast milk nor infant formula milk alone are sufficient to meet an infant’s nutritional needs.
- · A poor weaning diet will expose the infant to risk of iron deficiency anaemia, which can have long term health consequences, being linked to poor school performance and behavioural problems at the age of 10 years.
Stage 3: Toddler
- · Almost one quarter of 1 year olds do not get enough iron in their diet
- · Most toddlers vitamin D levels are very low and vitamin D is a key nutrient for bone growth
- · Toddlers are not just “little” adults – they have their own set of specific nutritional needs that need to be fulfilled to ensure they grow into healthy adults.