In honor of National Nutrition Month, 1,000 Days is kicking off its annual #March4Nutrition campaign to amplify the importance of nutrition for moms and babies during the first 1,000 days.
This #March4Nutrition, we are highlighting why the 1,000-days from a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s 2nd birthday offer such a critical window of opportunity to build healthy, thriving futures. The nutrition a mother and her child receive during this time set the stage for their health and well-being, both now and in the future.
Specifically, nutrition in the first 1,000 days is important for:
- Building Brains
During the 1,000-day window, a child’s brain grows more quickly than at any other time in life. Nutrition provides the building blocks for her cognitive abilities, motor skills and socio-emotional development.
- Building Health
Nutrition in the first 1,000 days provides the foundation for lifelong health. It impacts how our bodies and immune systems develop and influences our predisposition to diseases later in life.
- Building a Fair Start
Every child deserves to be healthy and thrive, but millions of young children don’t get this opportunity. Inequalities in child development often begin before a child is even born. Nutrition during the 1,000-day window can help build more equal beginnings and put all children on track to flourish.
- Building Prosperity
A healthier and brighter future for us all begins with investing in women and children in the 1,000-day window. Nutrition during this period provides the foundation for children to develop to their full potential, setting them up for later success and a healthy life.
Unfortunately, many moms and babies in the United States are not getting the nutrition they need for a healthy and thriving 1,000 days and beyond.
- During pregnancy, a mother’s diet and her nutrient stores are the only source of nutrition for her baby. This makes it critical that women get the nutritious food they need before and during pregnancy. However, women of childbearing age are consuming unhealthy diets with too few nutrient-rich foods and too much saturated fat, added sugar and sodium.
- Breastfeeding has powerful benefits for the health and well-being of both moms and babies, but widespread barriers to breastfeeding mean that 60% of mothers do not breastfeed for as long as they intend to. Only 25% of infants are exclusively breastfed for 6 months as recommended by experts.
- A healthy diet is essential to ensuring infants and toddlers grow well and are not at an increased risk of chronic disease later in life. Early nutrition also develops a child’s food preferences, with implications for lifelong eating habits. Unfortunately, many infants and toddlers are not consuming healthy diets: for example, virtually all toddlers (98.3%) and as many as 61% of infants consume added sugars on a given day.
- When a family struggles to put enough food on the table, it can have long-lasting negative impacts on developing children. In the U.S., 1 in 7 households with children under the age of 6 is food insecure – and racial/ethnic disparities mean that some children are more likely than others to lack the nutrition they need to thrive.
At 1,000 Days, we believe that all women and children in the United States deserve to have the healthiest possible 1,000-day window – and that starts with access to good nutrition and breastfeeding support.
Join us this month as we #March4Nutrition for moms and babies!