Through herculean efforts both on your end and your gestational carrier’s side of the equation, you are now officially a parent or well on your way to becoming one. Now what? Apart from learning how to become an expert diaper changer, there’s a lot that you’ll need to know about the first 1000 days of your baby’s life. To start, researchers recognize the most important time for child development is the first 1000 days, which is the time from conception to the growing child’s second birthday. Let’s unpack why.
You may be surprised to learn that in the first 1000 days, a child’s brain will grow more than any other time in their life. By the age of 2, their brain will reach nearly 80% of the size that it will be as a fully grown adult! This is why maintaining healthy habits during the pregnancy such as diet, exercise and low stress, is critical to the developing baby’s brain development.
Not all of this is fostered inside the womb. Much of their continuing development will depend on their own diet, nurturement, and the activities you initiate to foster that growth in those early stages of life.
Although every child is different, there are fundamental milestones and timelines that occur over the first 1000 days. By this point, you have probably been tracking along the fetal growth stages with a pregnancy app. Taking note of when the baby’s heartbeat begins, and if the fetus is the size of an avocado or a glorious pineapple. There are many more important milestones other than fruit size comparison when the baby is born. Here are just a few:
1-3 Months: During the first three months, expect a whole lot of eating, crying, and sleeping-not necessarily in that order. You can also anticipate watching your baby learn how to lift and control his or her head, a few sounds (that is not associated with crying) and your baby will probably flash a gummy smile at you for the first time.
4-6 Months: Your baby is more aware of his or her surroundings. Although the smiles will begin to increase they are beginning to be not-so gummy smiles as teething will be in full force. You can also expect for your baby to reach, grab and sit up. This is also the point where they try solid foods.
7-9 Months: If you haven’t already, it’s time to baby proof your home. You’ll have a mover and a shaker on your hands. This is the time when they are learning to crawl, stand, play little games like “peekaboo” and begin to eat finger foods.
10-12 Months: This is the stage of many firsts. Your baby is not only deftly crawling, but possibly walking for the first time. Your baby is learning how to communicate and you’ll likely hear their first word. Maybe even before their first birthday!
13-18 Months: If you are looking for some extra cardio in your life, you’ll get it. You will have a little explorer in your home. Prepare for fast-paced development, learning how to use a cup, play with a book, and they will have boundless curiosity and want to explore...everything.
19-24 Months: Look who’s now talking! Your toddler is now toddling, learning how to “pretend”, use a fork and spoon, and he or she is learning more words with each passing day.
Let’s begin with fed is best. Although there is a big emphasis in the benefits of breastfeeding, building a family through surrogacy makes that a bit more complicated. Although not impossible through inducing lactation or donor breast milk. Some gestational carriers are thrilled to donate! Regardless of if you choose to feed your baby breast milk or formula, the AAP recommends approved infant formula or breastfeeding for at least the first six months of age.
Once solid foods are introduced, offering a variety of healthy foods is vital in helping provide the “brain food” they need to grow and develop. Even before your baby is born, they will need a mix of the following:
Every baby and subsequent growing child is different. Mapping out a daily routine for development will take getting to know your baby and creating a routine custom to him or her on how to incorporate activities and practices to help stim brain development. Each day should include a healthy balanced diet, setting aside time to work on motor skills, communicating with your baby, and touch. That last one (touch) includes endless baby snuggles, lots and lots of baby snuggles.
There’s a lot you can do! Aside from a continual healthy diet there’s a lot of other things that can fuel and stimulate your baby’s brain. It begins with daily activities that you as new parent can do, even with a newborn. In fact, you will want to start at the beginning while they are young and their brain is in rapid growth mode.
Sound is important not only to stimulate the brain but also to help with communication. Consider playing music, singing songs, and most importantly, reading books aloud to your baby to help increase brain activity and their early onset communication skills.
Eye contact is also a great way to engage with your baby. A recent study determined that when babies and adults look at each other their brain waves sync up also known as a “joint network state” that helps facilitate communication between both parties. So go ahead stare away and lock eyes with your baby, it's totally ok to stare – for the reasons of brain development of course.
Touch is a love language for all humans. Your baby is no exception. Touch helps give your baby a sense of security, trust, and there’s even a science to it all. Skin to skin contact has been proven to stimulate a chemical reaction in the human body in the release of oxytocin, which is a neuropeptide that promotes bonding. So go ahead, make time for extra snuggles, those dishes in the sink can wait.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.