The first 1,000 days // The importance of the right nutrition from conception to two years old

Did you know that the first 1,000 days of your child’s life, from conception to two years old, are some of the most significant in terms of their growth and development? Making sure that your baby or toddler is getting the right nutrition is something we have all worried about. I know I have! SMA Nutrition has teamed up with medic and weekly health columnist Dr Ellie Cannon to help parents further understand how important the protein levels and nutrition for your baby is during this time.

If your pregnancy is planned then the chances are that from the moment you conceive you will start thinking about what you are eating (or more likely what you can’t eat – no more runny egg yolks!) and how that might be affecting your growing baby. I took pregnancy vitamins and folic acid, and tried to make sure I ate well during both my pregnancies – although there were probably rather more biscuits in my diet than is strictly healthy!

The first 1000 days

And then once your baby has arrived, feeding them becomes one of the most important (and sometimes stressful) things in your life. I think most of us probably know that breastmilk is the best thing for our babies. It contains just the right amount of protein along with all the micronutrients that your baby needs to avoid any deficiencies in early life. What is unique about breastmilk is that the protein level changes as your baby grows. It always provides the right quality and quantity of protein to ensure your baby grows at a steady and appropriate rate, which can actually help to stop them becoming overweight later in life. You can read more about the protein in milk and its importance on the SMA nutrition website.

Knowing all of that, I really wanted to breastfeed both my babies. As a lot of you mamas know though, breastfeeding isn’t always easy. I really struggled with Toby due to a combination of things, and you can read all about our breastfeeding experience here. I was proud that I at least managed to partly breastfeed for six weeks, but in the end, particularly with Toby’s reflux, it turned out that bottle feeding was the best option for us.

The first feed

With Gabe, breastfeeding was more successful, and I breastfed him for 10 weeks. Unfortunately, due to a combination of circumstances, including reflux again, we have ended up bottle feeding Gabe too. Although I know that exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months would have provided both my boys with the best possible nutrition, like a lot of women it just didn’t happen for us and I’m happy that formula exists and can provide my boys with the nutrition that they need.

Of course, after the first six months you’ve then got weaning to think about! We’ve just started weaning with Gabe and he seems to be enjoying his first solid food. I can’t believe he’s six months already though, the time has absolutely flown by!

We’re planning on following the same route we did with Toby, which was a mixture of finger foods and spoon feeding. That was mostly because I couldn’t cope with the extreme mess of pure baby-led weaning! We never gave Toby any purées though, he just had a little bit of what we were having, which made sure he was getting all the different food groups.

Messy weaning
From weaning until he was nearly two Toby was a fantastic eater and would eat anything we put in front of him. As a toddler he has become more fussy, but I think that is as much about asserting his independence as anything else! I think his fussiness definitely increased when he started talking and could tell us ‘Toby doesn’t like it,’ which we hear quite regularly! On the whole though he still has a fairly varied and balanced diet, it’s just very frustrating for me when something that he loves one day is completely rejected the next! I hope Gabe doesn’t pick up on his brother’s picky eating habits. Even though we are already past the first 1,000 days of Toby’s life I know how important it is to keep providing him with appropriate nutrition as it is so vital for his healthy growth and development.

Toddler tea

There is an awful lot of information out there about baby and toddler nutrition but I know sometimes it’s hard to find out what you really want to know. Everyone seems to have different advice, and this is one area where speaking to friends and relatives doesn’t always get you appropriate information, as the guidelines and recommendations have changed quite a lot over the last few decades. When I was a baby I was started on solids at just 10 weeks old. That’s completely unimaginable now but was the norm at the time!

If you have a question, something you would like to know about protein and nutrition during pregnancy or in the first two years of your child’s life, then leave me a comment below. Some of these questions will be answered by Dr Ellie Cannon and I’ll be publishing the answers in another post in a few weeks time.

Update: You can read the Q & A with Dr Ellie Cannon here.

The first 1000 days pin

*This post is in association with SMA nutrition