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The First 1,000 Days” initiative for children in Denmark

Mille Food welcomes the Danish government programme to improve the health and living conditions for small children: “The First 1,000 Days”.

It is during the child’s first 1,000 days of life that basic cognitive, social and behavioural competences are developed. At the same time, we know that social vulnerability has an effect already when the children are very small, including when they are in day-care. Thus, there is a difference in up to two years in children’s social, linguistic and early mathematical skills already at the age of three and at start of school. The Danish government wants to secure early action to level out such differences and support healthy development of children.

The Danish government has therefore in 2019 initiated a new 3-year programme called “The First 1,000 Days” to focus on and improve the general health of babies and small children. The programme is primarily targeting the most socially vulnerable children and includes a funding of DKK 1 billion (EUR 134 million). The Danish Health Authority oversees the programme (https://www.sst.dk/en).

The aim of the programme is to support families and children during the first 1,000 days of the child’s life on the two most central arenas for the little child: At home with the family and at day-care institutions.

At home with the family

Since 1937, Denmark has had a national infant nursing programme in place for baby and mother support, whereby nurses specialized in infant care visits private homes to provide advice about nutrition and other health issues related to infants. In the early years of the programme, the aim was to reduce infant mortality and general health conditions for infants from poor families. Today, infant mortality is not a major problem in Denmark, but you still see children with problematic health conditions.

The ”First 1,000 Days” will support more visits by nurses to the home with increased dialogue centered around healthy nutritional habits and child development. New information material and platforms (internet) will be developed and established as well, and advice regarding day-care will be provided.

Day-care institutions

Denmark has a world-record high share of children in day-care institutions. A large part of the funding of “The First 1,000 Days” will therefore go towards employment of more nursery teachers and further education of nursery teachers.

“The First 1,000 Days” shares the core objectives of Mille Foods: contributing to health and healthy development of children during the very first part of their lives. Therefore, Mille Food is very enthusiastic about the programme and hope that it can act as inspiration for others.