This is a fundamental period for the future development of the child: here is why and how to live it to the fullest
The first 1000 days of life are important – here’s why
Nine months in the belly and the first two years of life: in total they are about a thousand days which, at first (and inattentive) glance, could appear simply as the period in which children are very tender beings to cuddle, who understand just enough and who basically have fun with little. In fact, science tells us that it is a span of time essential for the psychophysical development of the child, which will also affect its future. It is such an important moment in the life of a human being that the University of Padua has created an ad hoc space to study it. This is the Babylab, a laboratory for scientific research engaged in the study of the development of children from the first months of life. To understand what is meant by “The first 1000 days of life” and how to best live them, we consulted an expert from Babylab, Eloisa Valenza, professor of Cognitive Development Psychology at the University of Padua.
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First thousand days of the newborn: what can parents do for their baby?
The first thousand days: this is a fundamental period for the future development of the child. Here’s why and how to best experience it. Giulia Calignano, psychologist and researcher at the Babylab of the University of Padua, answers in this podcast.
What is meant by “first thousand days of life”
Why is this time frame considered to mark an important moment in the life of the newborn?
“The first thousand days are the time interval between conception and two years of life. It is an extremely important period for the physical growth and psychological development of children. brain, which is a plastic organ, in this period it is maximally sensitive and vulnerable to the effects of the environment. It is the only organ of the human body that transforms itself not only in quantitative terms (i.e. it grows in size, as happens for all other organs) but also from a structural point of view. Early experiences affect how the brain organizes itself and how it works: what happens at the beginning has an influence on the future. For example, a bilingual child, that is, one who is exposed to two different languages from birth, has a different brain architecture from those who are exposed to a single language. All this happens based on the stimuli of the environment, the context in which the child is inserted, not only from the day of birth, but also before. Scientific research has shown that what happens in and out of the womb during the nine months of gestation has long and short-term effects on physical and psychological health. “
Could you give us an example?
“We make one known to all: the drugs taken during pregnancy greatly affect the health of the baby. It has been widely demonstrated that smoking, alcohol and all psychoactive substances do not leave the newborn unharmed”.
The first 1000 days of life are important because they lay the foundation for psychological well-being
The first 1000 days of life are important because they lay the foundations for psychological well-being: can you tell us how?
“There is a close interdependence between physical health and psychological well-being. There is a great deal of research showing that women who spend nine months of gestation in stressful conditions (such as high-risk or unwanted pregnancies, migrant or abandoned mothers) they “transmit” stress to the child. More precisely, high and prolonged amounts of cortisol (the stress hormone) determines biological changes at the neuroendocrine, neuroanatomical and epigenetic levels, which also continue in the progeny. The phenomenon of intergenerational transmission and in general the studies on maternal stress show that highly stressful reactions are directly transmitted to the progeny “.
And how can we promote a situation of psychological well-being during pregnancy?
Talk to the child. “In many ways: one certainly is talk to the baby bump. It has been shown that in the last trimester of pregnancy the mother’s voice reaches the baby filtered by the amniotic fluid. A newborn of very few hours of life recognizes this familiar voice among all the strangers it hears. Talking to the baby still in the womb therefore allows him to familiarize himself with a tone of voice that he will recognize once he comes into the world and that will help him calm down in stressful situations. The mother’s voice is perceived and encoded in every situation, whether she talks on the phone or whispers in her ear: the human brain is in fact predisposed to extract regularity, that is, to maximize similarities and minimize differences “.
Singing lullabies. “For the very young child, rhythmic sounds are more familiar and easier to recognize. If we sing him a lullaby while he is in the belly, when he comes out he will surely recognize them. His brain is predisposed to recognize recurrences, to extract regularities: having so many reassures him “.
Are there WHO guidelines on the first 1000 days of life?
“L’WHO has always promoted the concept of the combination of physical health and psychological well-being. The concept of health in fact according to the World Health Organization is to be understood as the complete physical, mental and social well-being and not as the simple absence of physical diseases “.
Not to cure but to “take care”. “This is why it heavily sponsors breastfeeding and for the first 1000 days it proposes the” to care “approach instead of” to cure “, which in Italian sounds like” take care “instead of” cure “. The” to care ” “In fact, it provides a 360-degree well-being, which touches the child’s body, mind and relationships. Living well this period that we are examining also serves to prevent physical discomfort: various scientific researches show that the state of health of adults is determined also based on the trend of the first 1000 …