Your Baby’s First 1,000 Days: AAP Policy Explained

  • Your Baby’s First 1000 days (American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • Food/Nutrition using Science 
  • Pediatricians are a resource (including food access resources) 

The American Academy of Pediatrics outlines some information about “Your Baby’s First 1000 days,” share some Food/Nutrition Science, & explain how Pediatricians are a resource (including helping with food access resources).

the first 1000 days, resources from the AAP, brown mother holding brown infant

Behavior & Development

Caring For and About Infants and Toddlers:

Researcher, activist, and pediatrician, T. Berry Brazelton, MD (1918–2018), devoted his career to understanding children’s behavior and development, the strengths that parents bring to raising them, and the challenges that parents face. In particular, Brazelton was deeply concerned about the conditions and contexts in which families raise children, how these can disrupt children’s development, and what might be done—through research, policy, and practice—to foster more favorable environments for families.

How do Infants Initially Learn:

As soon as an infant is born they begin to learn and understand the world from observation and experiences. Their brains are forming rapidly, creating new neural connections daily by taking note of how their needs are being met. When an infant cries because they are hungry and their parent responds with breastmilk, they begin to understand that they can get what they need through communication (in whatever way they can). This sense of security not only provides the infant with their needs being met, but also forms the initial signs of a secure attachment.

Also Learn Through Imitation:

At around 8 months of age, children imitate simple actions and expressions of others during interactions. Imitation is a crucial aspect of skill development, because it allows us to learn new things quickly and efficiently by watching those around us. Most children learn everything from gross motor movements, to speech, to interactive play skills by watching parents, caregivers, siblings, and peers perform these behaviors.

Study on Learning and Development:

Once a baby is born, they are able to quickly recognize human faces and while their eyesight is limited at first, they prefer to look at familiar faces. In a study on newborns, they were presented paddles with either an image of an intact face or a scattered face. The researchers would move the paddles along the newborn’s line of sight. The results showed that the newborns preferred the intact faces since they followed them for longer than the paddles with the scattered faces. This amazing study demonstrates the fast-paced learning and development that is happening once born.

Carolyn C. Goren, Merrill Sarty, Paul Y. K. Wu; Visual Following and Pattern Discrimination of Face-like Stimuli by Newborn Infants. Pediatrics October 1975; 56 (4): 544–549. 10.1542/peds.56.4.544

Serve and Return:

Serve and return is what strengthens the child’s brain and supports the development of communication and social skills. While infants are young, they are always learning, so when they cry, gesture or babble, and an adult responds in a suitable manner, this strengthens and builds neural connections in the child’s brain. This reciprocal interaction enacts to the infant that they are able to communicate their needs and be heard by the adult. Not only does serve and return assist in the development of the child, it can strengthen the parent-child relationship.

How to Strengthen Serve and Return Interactions:

Oftentimes, parents are serving their attention, time, and  encouragement while the infant is serving through interactions and development. Serve and return can be more impactful when the parent is giving their full attention. While multitasking is often our only option in today’s busy society, taking time to be in the moment with your child allows the serve and return to be a lot stronger. A simple way to do this is by putting your phone away and giving your undivided attention to your infant.


  1. Help Babies Learn to Fall Asleep on Their Own: What Research Says
  2. Sleep Pattern Facts
  3. Adults needing sleep
  4. Crying it Out info and research
  5. Graduated crying-it-out
  6. Bedtime fading
resources for sleeping, newborns, baby in stripped onsie sleeping, blue background

This resource is all about helping babies learn to fall asleep on their own. It looks at what research says about sleep patterns, adults needing sleep, and crying it out. And it also gives some major takeaways to think about and keep in mind.

common myths about baby sleeping yawning baby

This resource focuses on some common myths about baby sleep challenges that are not necessarily true. It explains why these myths do not hold up, gives some more information to keep in mind, and provides some strategies to use. 

Common Myths About Baby Sleep Challenges

Sleep problems are normal!

Here are some common myths busted: 

  • Later to bed = sleeps later in morning  – FALSE
    • Earlier in bed means longer, better sleep with less crying
    • Look for sleepy signs and meet that window!
  • Your baby should sleep through the night – NOT NECESSARILY, IT DEPENDS
    • Babies wake up 2-4 times during a night
    • Create a soothing routine and  supporting self-soothing 
  • “Crying it out” is bad for the baby – NOT USUALLY, PARENTAL CHOICE
    • Starting to fall asleep on own at 4 months
    • “Well loved, nurtured, and responded to during the day with not be hurt”
    • Helps to understand temperament
    • Some strategies/options 
    • When and where touch/talk is helpful
  • Babies on solid foods sleep longer – FALSE
    • Solid food should not be given before 4 months 
    • Make your last feeding part of bedtime routine

Sleep Challenges: Why It Happens, What to do

“Learn how to make sense of your infant or toddlers sleep challenges, and find out how to appropriately address them”

common myths about baby sleeping yawning baby

Common questions: 12 to 36 months

  • My 15-month-old son has just started child care full time (he was going 2 days per week before). All of a sudden, the child who has been sleeping through the night since he was 6 months old is waking up twice! I thought he was already adjusted to child care. After all, he’s been at the same center for a year now. What can I do? 
  • My 18-month-old son naps at child care like clockwork, every day from 12:30pm to 2:30pm. But on the weekends we can’t get him to go down for even 30 minutes! We do his nap routine, put him in his crib, but he screams until we give up and go get him. By 5pm, we’re all exhausted. Any suggestions? 
  • My 2-year-old is loved and well cared for by my husband and me. She has not been abused or exposed to violence. So why does she have bad dreams? For some reason my daughter has had three nightmares in the past two months. 
  • Recently, we switched my almost 3-year-old to a “big girl bed.” My one fear was that she’d start coming into our room in the middle of the night – and that is exactly what has happened. How do we nip this habit in the bud? 
  • My 2-year-old used to sleep soundly. But since we had a new baby, she has been getting up multiple times a night. This is driving me crazy. What can I do? 
  • My 2 ½-year-old daughter sleeps in our bed, and my second baby is due in a few months. I think four in one bed is a bit much, and I’d like to transition my daughter into her own bed in her own room. How do I do this without upsetting or scaring her? 
  • My 3-year-old son is suddenly afraid of the dark. He wants us to leave the light on when he goes to sleep, and if we turn it off after he’s nodded off, he awakens in the middle of the night screaming. What should I do? 
  • My 3-year-old sometimes starts screaming in the middle of the night. When we go to him, he does not respond to us even though his eyes are open. He eventually stops, lies down, and goes back to sleep. He doesn’t seem to have any recollection of the event the next day. Are these night terrors? What should we do? 

Think About These Questions:

  • What do you find most challenging about your child’s sleep habits? Why?
  • What do you think are the reason(s) for your child’s sleep challenge?
  • What have you tried that has work? Not worked? What can you learn from this?

Common questions: Birth to 12 months

  • My three week old son wants to be held all of the time. I can’t put him down without him crying within a few minutes. He sleeps with me at night, but only naps during the day if someone is holding him. Any suggestions?
  • I have an 8 week old. Her eating and sleeping habits are all over the map, and everyone keeps telling me to “put her on a schedule.” What does that mean and how do I do it?
  • My daughter is 2 months old, and I’m wondering if this is too young for her to start sleeping in a crib in her own room. She’s been ours since we brought her home, and she never sleeps through the night without waking at least a couple of times. 
  • I am trying to train my 5-month-old to sleep through the night, but when I let him cry it out, he keeps waking up my 3-year-old. What can I do? 
  • Since my 8-month-old was a tiny baby, I have had a regular bedtime routine: bath, quiet play, books, bed. It worked like a charm. But now, after we’ve read our story, my son starts fussing and crying as I carry him into his room. What’s going on? 
  • We are going to be visiting my parents’ house in a few weeks, where my 9-month-old will be sleeping in a portable crib. This is his first time away and his first time sleeping anywhere but in his own crib at home. Any tips on making the transition easier? 

How to start good sleeping habits early

  • Keep it routine
  • Read the signs
  • Consider what’s going on in your child’s life
  • Take into account your child’s temperament
  • Put baby to sleep when he is awake
  • Plan for protests
  • Be consistent
  • Turn off the TV 
  • What’s going on with you?

Seed and Sew has some great resources on sleep.

On this site, there is a focus on the term sleep pressure. There is also a free downloadable guide, which shares information based on 5 categories (Birth – 4 months, 4 – 5 months, 6-8 months until 12 – 15 months, and quiet time). If you want to learn more, there are also three courses available to take (newborn, 5 – 23 months, and 2 – 5 years). Also, you can check out Seed and Sews Episode on independent sleep.

Coping With Sleep Challenges

Reflection questions and suggestions when dealing with sleep challenges from birth to 3 months. 

No two children or families are alike. Questions:

  • Have you noticed any trends or patterns in your child’s sleep challenges? If so, what are they? How might this information help?
  • What have you tried in responding to your child’s sleep challenges? What has worked? What hasn’t worked? Why do you think that might be?
coping with sleep issues, 2 men, same sex couple, holding baby in bed

What can do:

  • Keep it routine
  • Read the signs
  • Consider what’s going on in your child’s life 
  • Put baby to sleep, awake
  • Take into account your child’s temperament
  • Plan for protests
  • Be consistent
  • Turn off the TV
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