A quality nutrition and optimum stimulation are essentials in the first 1000 days of life. This golden period spans roughly from conception through a child’s second birthday. During this period, the growth and development of various organ systems occur very rapidly. This period is called the window of opportunity that will determines your little one’s future.
At birth, the brain structure of a baby is about 25 percent of adult brain. But in the thousandth day, it has reached 80 percent. The brain mass, which is only about 300 grams at birth, is increased to more than 1000 grams at two years of age. This implies that 80 percent of brain growth occurs within the first two years of life. At the age of 3, the growth of the brain reaches 90 percent and at the age of 9 to 14, it will reach the size of an adult brain.
In order to properly functioned, the brain needs to develop through addition of synapses, branching of brain cells as well as maturation of neurons. The period which is started since the birth of your little one until his second birthday, is the time where the foundation of human ability is set, i.e. physical ability, verbal communication, social competence, etc. Development of emotional skill occurs between 0-2 years; logical and mathematical skill between 0-4 years; language skill between 0-10 years. To achieve optimum development of the brain, parents should carry out appropriate stimulation according to the stages of child’s development.
Other organ system that develops rapidly in a child’s early life is his digestive tract. At birth, various digestive enzymes are not yet sufficient nor properly functioned. Between 0-3 months, the existing enzyme within the digestive tract is lactase, which plays role in lactose digestion. Hence, your child can only consume breastmilk or infant formula which contains lots of lactose. Other enzymes that help digest protein and fat have been formed but are not completely functioned. That is why young babies can only digest protein and fat from breastmilk or infant formula.
As children get older, other enzymes that digest starch substances have been formed so that when a child is 6 months old, he is ready for complementary foods. When food is introduced, texture as well as frequency are tailored to the age and ability of a child. For example, at 9 months, when chewing strength and coordination have been developed, you may provide mashed home-made food for your little one. After the age of one, when his digestive tract is quite mature, he can be given family food.
The success of optimizing golden period during the first 1000 days of a child really depends on several factors, such as: nutrition, stimulation, hygiene, vaccination, and the basic health of children.
As for nutrition, a child’s need to macronutrients and micronutrients must be met according to age and developmental stages of digestive tract. Besides primary macronutrients and micronutrients, other nutrients such as omega-3, omega-6, AA, DHA, iron and choline can also support brain development. Keep in mind as well, that probiotics and prebiotics are also important to support healthy growth and development of digestive tract.
So, do not miss your child’s golden period. Optimize his growth and development for a brighter future.
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