The window of opportunity in child development
Have you ever heard about scaling up nutrition? Scaling up nutrition is a movement carried out by 57 countries in the world to eliminate various types of malnutrition, concerning the principle that all people deserve good food and good nutrition. This movement is a joint movement of government, community institutions, United Nations, entrepreneurs, scientists, and various layers of society.
The focus of the scaling up nutrition movement is meeting the needs of the first 1000 days of life to reduce the number of malnutrition. The effect of malnutrition occurring in children will not only last during childhood but will continue to impact to adulthood. One of the effects of malnutrition that will continue to be carried by the child until the child becomes an adult. Stunting occurs when children are shorter than the average height of their age. Not only has an impact on the physical, but stunting children are usually also associated with different intelligence.
What is the First Day of Life?
What is meant by 1000 days is the first 1000 days of a child’s life. Calculated starting from the child’s pregnancy (9 months 10 days = 280 days) and until the child is 2 years old (720 days), with a record of 1 month counted 30 days. Many people misinterpret the first 1000 days of a child’s life, generally, people count the first day from the first day the baby is born.
Some experts say that the age period of children under 2 years is known as the “golden period” or “Window of Opportunity”. So, to get a healthy and strong generation, the program priority scale is to start a child still in pregnancy until 2 years old.
The first thousand days of life have been agreed upon by the experts throughout the world as the most important moment in one’s life. From this moment, the fetus develops in the womb, until the second birthday determines one’s health and intelligence. Food during pregnancy can affect a child’s memory, concentration, decision-making, intellectual, mood, and emotional functions, etc.
Why are the first 1000 days of life so important?
First 1000 days life is a period of growth and development that starts from the pregnancy until the age of 2 years old. In this period, the baby’s brain and body are growing rapidly, so that if a nutritional problem occurs it will also affect the development of the baby’s brain and body. So, the fulfillment of nutrition at 1000 days life is very important, because if it is not filled with nutritional intake, the impact on child development will be permanent.
This permanent change is what causes long-term problems. Children who are malnourished at 1000 days life have a risk of stunting, lack of intelligence, and the occurrence of non-communicable / chronic diseases. This situation is not only intergenerational (from mother to child) but is trans-generation (from grandmother to grandson). Also, it is estimated that the impact has a period of 100 years, meaning that the risk originates from a problem that occurred around 100 years ago, and the impact will continue for the next 100 years.
Keep in mind, the first 1000 days of a child’s life is a golden period that must be filled with many positive things. Every phase of a child’s life is very important, but in the golden period in the first 1000 days, the child’s life becomes the foundation of the life span.
Malnutrition in this period will inhibit the growth and development of children that cannot be improved in the next lifetime.
Tips on giving the best treatment for children:
- Fulfillment of good nutrition starting from pregnancy
- Early breastfeeding initiation as soon as possible after the baby is born
- Giving exclusive breastfeeding in infants aged 0-6 months
- Give complementary food to breast milk with a balanced composition since the baby is 6 months old
- Perform complete immunizations according to the growth of the child’s age.
- Keeping environment sanitation
Then, how do you make optimal nutritional intake during the First 1000 Days of Life period? Here are some things that can be done so that children’s nutrition is sufficient.
- Increase meal portions pregnant and lactating women every day
Additional portions of this meal are important to maintain the health of the mother and the baby. It is important for increasing fetal weight. If you usually eat 3 dishes, when you are pregnant you must add it by 1 plate. So a total of 4 dishes a day and the food must also fulfill the need for complete nutrition. During pregnancy, the mother eats 4 plates of rice, while breastfeeding adds 1 more plate, to a total of 5 portions. Mineral water must also be added, which is usually 8 glasses per day. While in pregnancy, must be added to 10 glasses per day.
- Give exclusive breastfeeding
Milk that is produced naturally by your body contains nutrients that are important for baby’s growth. Its composition is easier to digest than formula milk. When the baby is born, give exclusive breastfeeding until the baby is 6 months old. The purpose of exclusive breastfeeding is to only give breast milk to babies without providing other food or drinks until the baby is 6 months old. This is very influential on growth, development, formation of endurance, and intelligence in these children.
- Provide complementary food for breast milk
In the first 6 months of life, babies should only consume breast milk. After 6 months, babies can consume complementary breastfeeding foods that are nutritiously balanced and continue breastfeeding until the age of 2 years. Also, adjust the food texture with the age of the child. If it’s still a baby, give a soft baby porridge, or it can also be mashed vegetables and fruit, such as potatoes, apples, bananas, avocados, or melons.
- Clean and healthy life
Some of the clean and healthy ways are complete immunization when babies to toddlers have to have a strong immune system. Always use footwear when going out, and get used to washing their hands with soap and running water after or before doing an activity.
- Take blood-added tablets
For pregnant women and during the postpartum period or 6 weeks after giving birth, it is recommended to take 1 tablet plus blood every day to prevent anemia in the mother and child. But what does anemia have to do and tablets add blood?
One of the aspects encouraged in the first 1000 days of life program is to fulfill nutritional needs optimally. Children’s nutritional needs must be fulfilled properly since they are still in the uterus. Fulfillment of good nutritional needs during pregnancy can support the growth and development of the womb. Premature babies or low birth weight certainly have a higher risk of health problems after birth. Since the body’s immune system is closely related to nutritional status.
After birth, the first 2 years period is a very vital period in the development of children’s eating abilities. That is why, the practice of infant feeding practice during the first 2 years of life must be true, including:
- The correct type of food given
- Correct form (consistency) of food given
- The correct portion of meals given