The Importance of the first '1,000 days'

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Written by Swisse

To celebrate the launch of our family planning and infant range - Swisse Ultinatal, we hosted a panel discussion around the critical 'First 1000 Days' of a baby's life. New Zealand experts shared practical steps that families can take to ensure that their babies get the best possible start to life.

Seven out of ten Kiwi mums aren’t aware of important information on just how critical the ‘First 1000 Days’ of a baby’s life is, according to research released today by Swisse Wellness and Sticky Beak Research in association with UMR.

Local and international research into the First 1000 days concept shows that preconception right through until a child’s second birthday firmly establishes a child’s future and therefore the future health, potential and prosperity of an entire nation.

Swisse Country Manager, Ben Whitley, says the ‘First 1000 Days’ concept is well-known in the medical community. “However, what we now know is that this knowledge hasn’t reached Kiwi mums and families - where the care landscape still weighs heavily towards antenatal (pre-birth) care”, he says.

“The First 1000 days is a unique and finite window. In this context, there are practical steps families can take to ensure that Kiwi babies get the best possible start in life. But they need access to good information.”

Swisse is taking an active stance to share relevant information and urge people to join the First 1000 days conversation.

“We want to use our platforms to encourage Kiwi families to talk, learn and share more on this topic”, Mr Whitley says. “We want to shift the conversation from ‘antenatal’ to something we’ve coined as ‘ultinatal’,” says Whitley.

Recently, Swisse hosted a panel of experts in Auckland to discuss the ‘First 1000 Days’, what this means in the New Zealand context and what else needs to be done to get the word out to Kiwi mums and dads.

Experts included: Dr Susan Morton, Director of the Growing up in New Zealand study; Merata Snedden, Plunket National Advisor; Amy Lovell, Paediatric Dietitian at Starship Children's Hospital and Professional Teaching Fellow at the University of Auckland; and Cathy Catto, Early Childhood Education Nutritional Expert.

“We know that proper nutrition during this time period builds a child’s brain, fuels their growth and gives them the greatest opportunities for the future in terms of health, education and happiness.”

“We also know that the opposite is equally true – if we don’t get this right, through the first 1000 days, there are life-long consequences - not just for the individual child - but for the potential of New Zealand’s future,” says Dr Morton.

The number one message from the roundtable of New Zealand experts was that we need to keep this simple. With that in mind, the experts want to encourage Kiwi mums and dads, wherever possible, to:

  • Remember that you are important and caring for yourself is essential. The foundations that go on to create your child are created in mums and dads long before conception, so prioritise your own health and wellbeing as early as you can
  • Get moving. Getting the whole family in the best possible shape in terms of wellbeing, health and a balanced diet creates a family that goes on to support the health and wellbeing of the family’s newest member
  • A multivitamin, and folic acid in particular, should be taken one-month preconception and three months after conception to support the healthy development of your baby’s nervous system.
  • Breastfeed, if you can, and for as long as you can - but also know that a fed child is a happy child
  • Don’t worry about growth charts. Aim for a happy baby and toddler and a steady growth trajectory
  • Introduce solids at around six months - at this age your child is growing at a faster rate than they ever will in their lives. Supplements providing minerals and nutrients such as calcium or omega-3 can help to support any nutritional gaps of those fussy eaters.

According to Sticky Beak research, almost 80 per cent of Kiwi mums now see supplements as playing an important role in complementing a healthy, balanced diet, something Swisse was conscious of when developing its new Ultinatal range. Released this month, Swisse says its Ultinatal range “provides premium quality formulas to support mum, dad and baby through life’s greatest journey.”

The first and only brand in New Zealand to offer a comprehensive range of tailored support for mum, dad and baby throughout the first 1000 days, the range expands on Swisse’s commitment to seek nutrient rich ingredients from around the globe to provide premium support for all consumers.

Dr. Cannata from Swisse, who helped developed the range, says that while starting a family can be an incredibly exciting time, the reality is that it can equally feel overwhelming.

“Life isn’t perfect - despite our best efforts – but Swisse Ultinatal gives Kiwi mums and dads the confidence to know they can support their child’s nutritional needs by accessing a range of six products for the whole family, from the beginning of the First 1000 days, right through until the baby turns two.”

Swisse Ultinatal is now available from Chemist Warehouse, Unichem and Life Pharmacies and independent pharmacies nationwide.

Ultinatal Panel