The first 1,000 days of a child's life are a time of transformation. They grow from tiny babies to inquisitive toddlers exploring the world. No matter whether a child is born in Malawi, Honduras, or the United States, they all need the same things to thrive: healthy food, clean water, and lots of care.
During the first two years, nutrition has a huge impact on childhood wellbeing. This time is crucial for brain development and physical growth, and the care a child receives during this time can set the course for their future potential. Access to food and healthcare can make the difference between a healthy, smiling child and a child with health issues that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.
Before a child’s eyes ever open for the first time, their health is a priority. They’re already growing fast, and it can be tough for a mother to keep up with eating for two. Morning sickness can make it even harder for a pregnant woman to get the nutrients her baby needs to survive and thrive. Clean water, vitamin supplements, and nutritious food are vital during this early period.
Feed the Children’s Care Group model is designed to give pregnant women and new mothers the resources they need. We help mothers learn to prepare healthy meals, educate groups about the importance of breastfeeding, and organize cooking demonstrations. Most importantly, this empowers women with knowledge to share within their communities, so that other new mothers and children can benefit.
Newborn babies need a lot of love. The question on every mother’s mind during the early days is, “What if I can’t feed my child? What if he or she isn’t getting enough to eat?” Mothers have to be healthy for their children in order to properly care for and nurture them through the first months of life.
For women who breastfeed, having a source of clean, safe drinking water is a priority. Hydration is critical for milk production, and the feeling of being unable to produce enough milk can be an additional burden on the mind and heart of a new mother.
During the first twelve months, children develop in amazing ways. At one month, a baby can recognize her mother’s voice. At two months she begins to smile, and at four months she’s laughing in wonder at the world around her. She will begin to rock, and sit up, and crawl. By the time she reaches her first birthday, she may even be able to stand without holding her mother’s hand. But none of this is possible without the right nutrition and care early on.
By their first birthday, kids are learning at the speed of light. They’re curious about everything, and once they start to walk, they’re off in every direction. It can be a struggle for mothers to provide enough food for their children when they’re growing so fast. And an energetic toddler brings new challenges: now that she can run, she can also fall down.
Children are resilient, but they’re still vulnerable to injury. And a child needs plenty of vitamins and nutrients to heal her scrapes and nourish her growing body. Regular, healthy meals are important for mental development, too: kids learn much more easily when they’re not hungry.
When children have enough to eat, their futures are bright.
Feed the Children is committed to creating a world where no child goes to bed hungry. In fiscal year 2018, your generous gifts made it possible for us to serve 6.5 million kids and families around the world. You helped provide multivitamins and iron supplementation to pregnant women, clean water to schools, and educational initiatives that help communities thrive. In addition, more than 53,000 children worldwide participated in our sponsorship program, which works to address the root causes of poverty, promote self reliance, and strengthen communities.
It’s the best thing in the world when a mother sees her child smile for the first time, or say “I love you.” And for the children we serve, those smiles are thanks to you. When you give, you’re not just making a donation. You’re helping ensure a brighter future.