We can look at the first 1000 days as a series of steps, breaking them down to help us stay on track, as we navigate through these steps.
For any baby the first 1000 days –
from conception to around two years of age – is a super important time to set
down lifelong health foundations and a period of rapid growth and development.
It’s a time when good nutrition is
paramount: research shows that this period is a kind of ‘golden window’ of
opportunity. It’s where the footprint for lifelong health is seeded. From
adequate nutrition during pre-pregnancy and pregnancy to your toddler’s diet, it’s
a vital time.
Poor nutrition during these early
days can have long term consequences for both the individual child and also the
broader community: that’s because the negative effects influence health and
wellbeing and these have knock-on effects in terms of higher healthcare costs,
the competitiveness of the workforce and even equality of opportunities to all.
This period is also important
because it’s the time when the gut bacteria, also called the gut microbiota, is
established and this is essential for immune function, gut health and all sorts
of numerous subsequent benefits. For babies, birth is a super important time
for setting up the gut bacteria, as bubs get exposed to significant levels of their
mother’s and the world’s microbes for the first time.
We can look at the first 1000 days
as a series of steps, breaking them down to help us stay on track, as we
navigate through these steps.
Pre-pregnancy generally means the
three months leading up to pregnancy and making sure you are your healthiest
self during this preconception period can help with conception, reduce the risk
of issues popping up during your pregnancy and also assist recovery from birth.
Being at your healthiest body weight is a great place to start. Oh, and by the
way, during this period, supplemental iodine and folate are recommended for tip-top
pre-pregnancy nutrition preparation, so it’s best to chat to your GP or dietitian
about your needs for these nutrients if you are planning a pregnancy.
For other great nutrition advice on
eating well, take a look at The
Australian Dietary Guidelines for sensible and evidence based approaches to
eating for health. For exercise, the Australian
Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults accumulate 150 to 300
minutes (it’s not as much as it sounds!) of moderate intensity physical
activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an
equivalent combination of both, each week.
if your pregnancy just popped up without too much planning (what a lovely
surprise), just get on board as soon as you can, to get all this good nutrition
During pregnancy, ensure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet and
remember that being the healthiest you can be and that what you eat will affect
the health and growth of your baby. Eat according to the Australian Dietary
Guidelines, and especially make sure that you get the right amounts of iodine
and folate. Generally, the iodine and folate supplements you were having whilst
planning your pregnancy should be continued during your pregnancy but again, you
should chat to your GP or dietitian about these 2 important nutrients and other
key nutrients of importance, including lots of healthy prebiotic fibres to feed
the good gut bacteria. All this means that during pregnancy, we should mostly choose
foods from the grains and leafy greens and vegetables food groups, fruit,
dairy, lean meat, fish and legumes or their alternatives. You can see the
Australian Dietary Guideline recommendations at eatforhealth.gov.au.
There are a few things to avoid during pregnancy, such as foods at risk
of listeria bacteria contamination (e.g. soft cheese like Brie and soft serve
ice cream, raw seafood like sashimi, prepared and pre-packed salads, and
products from the deli such as ready-to-eat prawns, turkey, salami, ham and
paté). Fish containing higher mercury levels should also be avoided during
pregnancy, including Orange Roughy (Sea Perch), shark/flake, billfish
(including swordfish, broadbill and marlin) and catfish, but low mercury
containing fish such as Salmon and canned Tuna are fine.Oh, and during
pregnancy, the recommendations around alcohol are clear: it is best not to have
any alcohol at all during pregnancy.
Remember, you don’t need to be
‘eating for two’. Small increases in the amount of food you were eating
pre-pregnancy is generally sufficient.
If you can, it’s recommended that
babies are exclusively breastfed during their first six months of life. With
every breastfeed, there are innumerable advantages for both mother and baby.
Breastfeeding can help reduce your baby’s risk of weight issues and obesity
later in life. Make sure you’re eating a varied diet as breast milk can
influence children’s food preferences later in life. If breastfeeding is not
possible, infant formula is the only safe alternative to breast milk.
is also the first point when a
baby’s own gut bacteria is set up, as when they pass through the birth canal
they experience significant exposure to their mother’s microbes for the first
time, although scientists now think that infants are exposed to some of their
mum’s microbes in utero. From this
point onwards, gut bacteria continues to develop, and stabilises around the end
of the 1000 days.
4.At six months
At six months, when you can start introducing solids to your baby’s
diet, make sure you introduce a variety of foods, in small amounts. First foods
should be iron-containing foods, including iron-enriched infant cereals, pureed
meat, poultry and fish (all good sources of iron), or cooked tofu and legumes
to meet an infant’s increased iron needs. Vegetables, fruits and small amounts
of full-fat yoghurt, cheese and custard may be added, but without added sugar,
honey or salt. Other than introducing iron-rich first foods, the presentation
of other foods to your baby can occur in any order.
Oh, and by the way, during the
introduction of solid foods, from around 6 months until 12 months, breastmilk
(or baby formula), if you’ve chosen not to breastfeed) still forms the major part of
their dietary intake and remains their major nutrition source.
5.At one year and beyond
By the time your baby reaches his
or her first birthday, they should
be enjoying a varied diet, and develop the muscles and skills they need for
chewing and eating. Milk should still be present, as it provides important
nutrients, but by now their diet should be filled with different colours,
textures and provide a range of taste profiles.
And as your baby becomes more and
more aware of what’s going on around them, remember that you need to be setting
a good example. Being a good role model is particularly important at this time.
Lastly, remember that routine is
everything. Babies will need a regular routine with appropriate serving sizes. Babies
have very small tummies, so they will not eat large amounts all at once.
Smaller serve sizes, offered more often, is the way to go…
Remember, the right nutrition is a
lifelong commitment and setting the right example for your baby as they grow
will ensure they pick up healthy eating habits, which they’ll keep with them
long after you’re done preparing their meals!
Welcome to Babyinfo – the ultimate pregnancy and newborn information guide. We are here to help you find all the pregnancy and baby info you need to make the most beautiful experience of your life even better.
Our team is comprised of an amazing mix of experienced mothers, recently pregnant women, and editors with tremendous medical knowledge in the fields of gynaecology and childbirth.
Think of us as your friendly advisors, here to give you honest, easy to understand and authentic information. We are here to be your support at this crucial time in your life, when you need it the most.
Note: This website is in no way meant to replace doctors, hospitals, or other healthcare providers that may be utilized by current mothers or mothers-to-be. All mothers are advised to see a doctor for medical advice and the appropriate care before, during, and after pregnancy.