First 1,000 days of life crucial to a child’s future

The most valuable thing parents can give young children is their time

As the government prepares to publish a major study on early years care in France, renowned paediatrician Arnault Pfersdorff explains that parents’ time is vital to the healthy development of a young child

The first 1,000 days of life, starting in the womb and lasting to around two years old, are vital to the future development of every child.

The concept is considered so important – in both developing and developed nations – that Unicef has launched a child development protocol based on it.

It covers everything from poor access to food and healthcare to fears that young children in developed nations are missing out on vital elements that could damage their development into healthy, stable, happy adults. The overuse of screens is one predominant factor.

The French government will soon release the results of a study by a commission of 18 experts into how best to improve the chances of young children at this vital stage.

They have examined maternity and paternity leave, childcare for working parents, access to medical and social care and support for young parents.The “first 1,000 days” – originally referred to in research published in The Lancet in 2016 – start from about the fourth month of ...

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