By the time a child is two years old the most important stages of physical and brain development have already occurred. If this development doesn’t happen in that time, it will never happen. That child will never be able to make it up.
Scientists and health professionals refer to this critical time of development as the first 1000 days, spanning from the moment of conception until a child reaches their second birthday.
“If the brain is not fed and stimulated in those very early days, and years of life, we are depriving that child of a healthy development… the newborn brain uses 97% of the energy that that child takes in. A 4 year old brain is only using 44% of the energy that that child takes in. So imagine what happens if a (newborn) is malnourished.” DeeDee Yates | TEDxWindhoek A newborn baby is using almost all of the energy it can get to develop its brain. If a child doesn’t get enough nutrition their brain can not develop properly and that damage will be permanent.
Our lives come in stages with the later stages building on the earlier, what comes at the beginning shapes what comes after. If children do not receive what they need in the first 1000 days it will affect the course of their entire life.
“Poverty, any form of malnutrition, violence in the home and community, environmental toxins, and poor physical and mental health of parents are among the major risk factors for less-than-optimal child development. Exposure to these risk factors early in a child’s life is associated with toxic stress and a lack of stimulation that, in turn, can lead to life-long impaired cognitive functioning and stunted growth.” USAID Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity
One of the key parts of what we do here at The Charis Project is to help families give their children the strong healthy start they need to have the best chance of a strong life.
This starts with nutrition and coaching for mothers while pregnant, through our Family Rescue Program. It continues with education and support for breastfeeding mothers, and ongoing training for parents in nutrition, and early childhood development through our Family Education Program. This support equips struggling parents with the ability to ensure their child’s future success.
Without the proper support in the first 1000 days, the brokenness of society, and cycles of poverty are doomed to be repeated. But if we can give children what they need in this crucial time, we effectively “disrupt intergenerational cycles of poverty, poor health, and conflict”.
From the US Government Strategy for International Assistance on