The first 1,000 days of life – the time spanning roughly between conception and one’s second birthday – is a unique period of opportunity when the foundations of optimum health, growth and social connection are established.
While the human brain continues to develop and change throughout life, the most rapid period of brain growth and its period of highest plasticity is in the last trimester of pregnancy and the first two years of life. The human brain at 5 months post-conception is a smooth structure that looks somewhat like a coffee bean. By 9 months, i.e. full-term birth, it looks far more like the walnut-like adult brain. In the first postnatal year, there is rapid growth in functions like attention and language.
At two year’s old, a baby’s brain has grown so rapidly it is already 80% of the size it will be as an adult.
Why is this so important?
The first 1001 days of a baby’s life are when important skills are learnt and foundations built that affect the rest of their life.
Babies absorb everything around them, the way people interact with them, the way their parents or care-givers interact with each other. They are constantly learning, constantly trying to make sense of the world around them. It is these first experiences that shape the rest of their lives.