The brain’s unique window of opportunity

The first 1000 days of human life—the period between conception and the second birthday – are a unique chance to lay the groundwork for optimal lifetime wellbeing, growth, and neurodevelopment. This is a period of brain growth that lays the basis for subsequent development. 

Early childhood development is more than just a preparatory phase helping the child’s transition to adulthood. It shapes the development of the child as a whole, addressing his or her social, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs, to establish a solid and unbreakable foundation for lifelong development and well-being.

The early years of life are of high importance not only for individual health and physical development, but also for cognitive and social-emotional development. The early moments in the first few years of life have a crucial impact on building human capital. 

Children’s early experiences—the bonds they form with their parents and carers, the love, safety, and care they receive, and their first learning experiences—inevitably influence their future physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development. 

The best investment we can make as a society in ensuring their future success is optimising the early years of children’s lives. Improving the wellbeing of children is one responsibility among many. 

These children become physically and mentally healthy adults—people who create better lives for themselves, their communities, and their countries.  

“That love is an important part of the economy.” says the economist James Heckman. It has the highest proven ROI in the world at 700%. 

Evidence from both developed and developing countries suggests that an additional dollar invested in high-quality preschool programmes will yield a return of anywhere between US$6 and US$17.   

It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

Get Involved

Enough sleep, healthy food, a supportive environment, and the ability to prepare themselves emotionally for motherhood are the things a pregnant woman needs as her baby’s body and brain develop in her womb.

Mother’s Love

The mother is the first person that the baby meets – and the bond between mother and child deeply shapes the child’s understanding of the world. The mother-child relationship starts from the moment of conception and is paramount for the development of the infant later in life.

Stay Connected

 The attachments that the child forms at an early age and which will continue to be important for his relationships with other people later, significantly depend on the father. It is not enough for him to be present in the family. It is important to be responsive to the needs of the child and to take real care of him/her (related to feeding, bathing, sleeping, and playing). 

Brain Development

Every second, the brain of a child makes more than 1 million new connections between the neurons. Although loving care helps the brain become healthy, frequent exposure to frightening circumstances, such as abuse, neglect, failing to meet the basic needs of the infant, or making them feel unloved, will limit the child’s ability to enjoy life.

Exposure to Toxic Stress

When a child is exposed to a high-stress environment for weeks or months, including during pregnancy-which can be connected to deep poverty, abuse or parental mental health-high levels of stress hormones may become detrimental to their development.


Breast milk is more than just a food. In addition to nutritious goodness and immunological effects, breastfeeding brings intense emotional touch, allowing the infant and the mother to bond.


The reason a child will suffer from malnutrition is not only not having enough food. It may also be caused by diseases such as diarrhoea or obesity due to eating too much low-quality food.

Learning from birth – or before

Early learning experiences are considered to be equal, if not more important, than formal learning. Playing with parents and playing with objects are the two main sources of “informal learning” for babies and toddlers. For children, stories – told, sung or read – are a form of love. They help children understand where they belong and give a sense of meaning to their lives.

Learning through Play and Love

Children are the ultimate explorers. Learning is all about giving children a chance to explore and nurture their sense of passions and curiosity. However, in order for them to gain trust in experimenting and learning, to acquire new skills and eventually become autonomous, they need to know that they are loved.