Healthy Children, Successful Adults
YOU are the biggest influence on your child. You can greatly improve your child’s brain development and future success by ensuring a safe, healthy, enriching start in life. In your infancy and early years of life, chances are you had at least one strong, positive, consistent influence who helped you develop your potential and protected you from harm. Who was that for you?
It is a great responsibility to raise children — and many families are asking for help. The First 1,000 Days Florida Coalition can link families to voluntary programs that enhance families’ abilities to give their children what they need.
Why does it matter that a child has a healthy first 1,000 days of life?
The most rapid development occurs in the first 1000 days of life, a critical window for learning to see, talk, walk and think. Developmental gaps may be closed later but with much more difficulty.
- Academic and social success as they mature
- Fewer costs associated with illnesses or developmental difficulties later on
- Greater academic and job prospects
- Parents can more easily retain employment and be more productive
- Less chance of mental/behavioral health problems because children are protected from violence or get help to heal after trauma
- Bad childhood experiences have cumulative effects that threaten a child’s growth and success over time
As a parent or guardian, remember:
1) Your child’s brain is still developing in the first 3 years and can be enhanced by positive early experiences.
Nutrition, breastfeeding, and no exposure to drugs lead to healthier children. Breastfeeding and proper nutrition for the mother and the baby are proven to make children healthier and well developed. When children are healthier, they are able to reach higher levels of success in later stages of life. Exposure to toxic stress such as an environment with drug use can be detrimental to a young child.
Play, reading, and singing benefit language development. Infants learn through experiences they have with objects and people. Play, reading, and singing are beneficial to language development. Play helps children learn to interact with their environment, while reading and singing are interactive ways to learn language.
Word gap contributes to lower academic performance. There is a 30 million word gap in the vocabularies of children between the wealthiest and poorest ends of society. The greater vocabulary a child has, the better the chances are that the child will become successful in school later on.
Involved fathers are critical to a baby’s development. Fathers handle babies differently than mothers do. Male involvement, especially when supported by responses from babies and women, can significantly benefit a child’s development.
Attachment and attention are crucial to development. Attachment allows children the well-being, motivation, and opportunity needed to explore, learn, and relate. Attention and attachment are important for safety, stress regulation, adaptability, and resilience.
Benefits of quality child care. Access to quality child care is important for brain development, school readiness, and reduced stress. When the child benefits from care, everyone else benefits, too.
2) Likewise, negative experiences in the first 3 years can harm your child’s brain and future success.
Long-term impacts of trauma. Early experiences greatly influence the development, and chronic stress can be toxic to the developing brain. Significant early adversity can lead to lifelong problems.
Healthy relationships and stable caregivers affect children positively. When a child is exposed to healthy relationships and a stable living and learning environment with quality caregivers, the child is more likely to experience healthier mental and physical development.
Infant stress and mental illness. Young children have very few symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Fear of strangers, fear of leaving a parent, sleep problems and nightmares may be indicators of early trauma.
Effect of witnessing violence. Stressful, violent environments can be detrimental to a young child’s development. When a child is exposed to a toxic environment at a young age, development may be affected negatively. This can endanger future success.
3) Keeping yourself and your child safe and healthy enhances your child’s development and success.
Maternal health affects the baby’s health.The health of the mother directly affects the health of the child. During pregnancy, proper nutrition for the mother means proper nutrition for the baby. During early childhood, the mother’s physical and mental well-being has an impact on the child as well. The more stable and healthy the mother is, the healthier the child will be.
Early intervention is important for children with developmental delays. Neural circuits, which create the foundation for learning, behavior and health, are most flexible or “plastic” during the first three years of life. Over time, they become increasingly difficult to change.
Early detection of hearing, speech, or vision problems is beneficial. Early screening is crucial to the detection of hearing, speech, and vision problems. Finding out if there is a developmental problem enables the parent or guardian to arrange for proper care in learning and growing.
Immunization is beneficial in avoiding chronic disease. Chronic diseases are responsible for 7 of every 10 deaths among Americans each year. Immunization in early childhood can largely help to avoid and eradicate some of these chronic illnesses.