Why are the first 1000 days of my baby’s life so important?

The first 1000 days, is it the time since you had a full night’s sleep? It might feel like it, but actually, it’s the time from when you get pregnant until your baby is two years old.

Why are the first days so important for your baby’s development?

When your baby is born, though their brain is developed the wiring of it isn’t complete. In fact, only 25% of their brain has connected at this stage. There’s a huge amount of development and growth still to happen. This is logical if you think about it since the same applies to your child’s tiny body! However, unlike our physical bodies which continue to grow until the late teens (and beyond for some of us!!), your baby’s brain will be 90% developed by the age of 3. Isn’t that amazing? That’s a whole heap of brain development going on in a tiny amount of time!

Can you make a difference to your baby’s brain development?

Researchers are finding out more and more about the effect of early experiences on brain development. What’s clear from the scientific findings, is that it is the quality and content of these early days have a direct impact on your baby’s developing brain. If the experiences you give your baby are positive, then they help build a strong foundation for their learning and development for the rest of their life. If the experiences your baby gets are less positive, the foundation developed will be less robust.

Babies need to learn everything

And like all learning, it starts with the simple and builds to the complex. The stronger and better developed those early pieces of learning are, the more secure the foundation is, the better your child is able to learn everything else in life. And I mean everything from their schoolwork to their emotional resilience. It affects their academic success, their health both physical and mental and it affects how much they earn and even who they marry!

So, the first 1000 days couldn’t be more important!

What actually happens during the first 1000 days?

From the moment your baby is born, they have most of the nerve cells, or neurons, that they will need for the rest of their lives! This is not to say that our brains don’t continue to learn and develop – this process hopefully continues throughout the whole of life (!) – but the nuts of bolts of the structure of the brain are all there at birth. Pretty amazing if you think about it! The main thing that needs to happen is that these nerve cells need to be connected together into a complicated network that will, in turn, develop into thought processes and actions. These connections are called ‘synapses’ and they are formed rapidly during the first 1000 days building either strong or weak neural pathways.

What builds these neural pathways?

Every time you interact with your baby, or the baby experiences something new and interesting, synapses are formed. (So that’s every time you hold them, sing to them, giggle with them or change a nappy, etc). The more synapses that are formed, the stronger the network of connections grows. If the interaction happens again, the synapse connection is strengthened.

This process continues all the time. However, if a connection isn’t used or reinforced by more lovely activities and interaction, then the connection withers up and dies, through a process called pruning. This is a natural and healthy part of brain development. It is just like the process of pruning a plant in the garden. And, just like pruning in a garden helps a plant to grow stronger, the process also helps the brain to grow.

Why is this important for my baby?

Researchers have found that children whose brain synapses have been strengthened by lots of early positive experiences with their parents and carers will be better prepared for future development in later life and have better life outcomes. They will also be more prepared for when they enter school or more formal learning environments. If a child is school-ready, then they are ready to learn and this has a huge impact on their potential success.

So what you do matters!

Knowing what to do with your baby can be tough

Understanding the learning your baby is gaining from the things you do is even harder, which is why the Oliiki app is here to support you from the very first day of your baby’s life right through until your baby turns two.

Understanding what your baby is learning helps you understand how you are developing their brain.

Oliiki gives you an easy-to-do activity every day and shows you what your baby is gaining from you sharing it with them. We also show you the science and research behind the activity which helps you understand your baby’s development. This not only helps you bond and have fun with your baby and fill the long days, but it also helps you know you’re doing the very best you can for your child, and it ensures you are building them a really strong foundation for their learning.

Download the Oliiki app today and enjoy start playing and learning together safe in the knowledge you’re doing the very best for your baby. (The first 7 days of using the Oliiki app are on us!)

This guest blog post was written by Clare Stead, creator of the Oliiki app, and was originally published on her website: Why are the first 100 days so important for my baby?

For more information on Clare and the Oliiki app, visit www.oliiki.com.

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