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The importance of nutrition in the first 1000 days

The importance of nutrition in the first 1000 days

During the first 1000 days, from conception through to a child’s second birthday, nutrition plays a vital role in promoting optimal growth and development. But what should be one of the most fun stages, starting babies on solid foods, can instead be a stressful time.

Dr Cath Conlon of Massey University’s Institute of Food Science and Technology is undertaking research to find out more about how babies in New Zealand are fed, and if mums feel they are getting support, and the right advice.

“Parents want the answer to a simple question, ‘What foods can I give my baby?’ Yet they are confronted with lists of suitable foods for different ages – baby rice at six-months is OK, but don’t give toast fingers until seven-months.

“Advice during this time is often conflicting, and differs dramatically from what advice was given to their mothers. It may have even changed between their first and second child.”

She says, “There are even ‘baby fads’ such as avoiding starchy foods or fruit because of their sweet taste.”

Dr Conlon says in other countries, a wide variety of first foods is given to babies. “From congee [rice porridge] to dahl [pureed lentils] to papaya and mangoes. Many countries are not afraid to add flavour to babies’ foods such as garlic, ginger and turmeric, or use traditional foods such as Yak butter and dried fish.”

Dr Conlon wants parents of babies aged between six to nine-months to participate in a simple online survey to help her research: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/howbabiesfeed

This hot topic of debate will be highlighted at an upcoming symposium at Massey University where experts from New Zealand and Australia will present the latest research on the importance of Early Life Nutrition: the first 1000 days to New Zealand Health Professionals.

The two-part series focuses on the journey through the first 1000 days, through conception and

pregnancy to childhood. Experts will speak on a range of topics, including the development of allergies in children, prevention of obesity, weight control though pregnancy and how to tackle fussy eaters.

Part One: Thursday 22nd October

Part Two: Thursday 31st March 2016

To register and for further information about the symposia series: www.massey.ac.nz/nutritionsymposia

ends

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