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Getting babies through to 2: everything you need to know

After Nasibo Asuran gave birth to her eight-month-old daughter, Ramah – a Concern trained community health volunteer – was sent to ensure that her baby had a healthy start to life. Kenya. Photo: Peter Caton/Concern
After giving birth, Nasibo Asuran was sent a Concern-trained community health volunteer. Kenya. Photo: Peter Caton/Concern
News19 May 2017Lucy Bloxham

Seeing ‘Through to 2’ everywhere? Wondering what it’s all about? Here’s a Q&A with everything you need to know about this fantastic cause.

Why is the time between conception and aged 2 so important?

The first two years of a child’s life is a critical time – it is this period that maps out how a child is going to develop both physically and mentally. British medical journal The Lancet in 2008 confirmed that if a child does not have adequate nutrition in the period between conception and through to 2, the damage is irreversible.

If a mum doesn’t have enough to eat during pregnancy, it can lead to dangerous low birth weight and poor growth in their children. Moreover, it’s often the children that suffer the most or die when food is scarce due to poor harvest. Undernourished children are more at risk of contracting other life-threatening illnesses such as diarrhoea, malaria, HIV or AIDS.  They are more likely to be stunted in stature and in brain development, leading to lower educational performance and economic productivity.

Nearly half of child deaths worldwide link to malnutrition.

The first two years are a window of opportunity to help babies grow big and strong so they can survive. It’s the critical stage in which a child’s future is formed. You can help give babies and children the building blocks of a healthy life and future by ensuring children living in extreme poverty get the proper food and care they need to survive and thrive.

What is 'Through to 2'?

How do children develop during this time?

During pregnancy, a baby gets all the nutrients they need for healthy growth and brain development from his or her mother. A healthy diet for a mother during pregnancy means a healthy diet for her baby too and helps to ensure that a baby is born at healthy weight.

Breastfeeding – initiated within an hour of birth - provides a baby with the best start in life. Breastmilk is a superfood for babies containing all the nutrients and vital ingredients they need in their first 6 months for their brains and bodies, but also protecting them from illness, infection and disease.

At 6 months, a baby’s nutritional needs increase to support their growth and development and they require nutrient-rich whole foods in addition to breastmilk. During this period, it is important for mothers not just to think about what they feed their babies to meet their nutritional requirements, but also how they feed them so that they develop healthy eating practices. Babies and infants may also need vitamin and mineral supplements or fortified foods if they are not getting what they need from their diet.

Babies will then be starting to crawl and walk. These are big development milestones!

Pictured are Safiatu Kamara with her baby daughter, Awanatu and Fatumata Kabia, who is pregnant with her first child. They are attending a gathering of the Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health groups in the town of Mapaki. Photo: Ki
Safiatu with her baby daughter, Awanatu and Fatumata, who is pregnant with her first child.

What are ‘building blocks’?

The eight building blocks represent the important ways in which Concern provides children in extreme poverty with the nutrition and care they need to reach their development milestones during those special first two years of life. The building blocks include:

  1. Antenatal care and nutrition: Concern Worldwide helps provide antenatal care, nutrition and support for mums to ensure that babies get the nutrients they need in the womb.
  2. A healthy birth: We help mums living in extreme poverty to give birth safely and ensure that their newborn babies get the care they need.
  3. Infant feeding: Concern’s help ensures babies receive the essential vitamins and nutrients they need during the critical first few months of their life. This includes teaching mums about breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months.
  4. A parent’s role: Concern helps to ensure babies continue to receive the care they need as they grow older. That includes helping parents to provide the food their growing baby needs – how much to feed them, how often, and how to get the right combination of nutrients.
  5. Treating malnutrition: In addition to helping children get the care they need, Concern also provides emergency food when it’s needed to children who are malnourished.
  6. Safe water: Concern helps to provide clean water to children at a time when they are especially susceptible to infection – as they begin to walk confidently they come into contact with more bugs and germs.
  7. Thriving families: As children approach the crucial two-year milestone, Concern’s support can help families build a sustainable income. We provide agricultural training and support families to earn another livelihood so they can feed their children for years to come.
  8. You’ve helped a child ‘Through to 2!’
15-month-old Zainab. Photo: Khaula Jamil / Pakistan (2020)

Give babies the building blocks to a healthy, happy life

  • You’ll help mothers give birth to healthy babies

  • You’ll be helping babies survive in times of crisis

  • You’ll help a baby through to 2

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