Four ways to make the first 1001 days really count!

Why love, connection and community is the best recipe for happy babies, happy families and happy futures.

Whether you feel you’ve thrived or just survived becoming a lockdown parent, there’s good news for new mums and dads this year, despite the challenges Covid has presented for the nation’s first-timers, (or even the second, third or fourth!) In a year in which the usual opportunities for new parents have been hard to find, it’s easy to feel that both parents and babies have missed out. But mother of three, founder of Blossom & Baby, Gayle Berry, sees something different and she’s championing a myriad of ways that parents can find deep, soul-filled love and connection with their little ones, making their first 1001 days really count. 

“It’s not too late,” says Gayle, “and I especially want new parents to hear this message. You might feel like lockdown has been the hardest time to become a parent and I completely understand that. Many of the usual support networks came to a grinding halt as we were all confined to our homes. But the reality is, that for your little one, the undivided attention you’ve been able to give them during lockdown is actually the very best thing they’ve received. All the other stuff can wait!”

Gayle, an international expert in baby massage and yoga, has made it her mission for the last 16 years to encourage parents in their connection with their babies, and she’s becoming even more vocal as the world recovers from the pandemic. 

“The first 1001 days, from pregnancy until a child is two, is incredibly formative and we have an excellent chance to invest in them and assure them of a secure and successful future,” Gayle says. “I just want to remind people that they’ve already been doing that, even if they feel they’ve missed out. Paternity and maternity leave is an opportunity to devote yourself to your little one and there’s no doubt this last year has been anything but normal but parents have been creative and all the nurturing instincts have kicked in. It may have been stressful at the time, but I have no doubt that lots of new mums and dads will look back at this time with gratitude.”

Next month Gayle is bringing together guest experts from all over the world facilitating panel chats as well as hands on workshops, in an event; “Nurturing the Future” to help professionals, and parents feel inspired and connected, and to spread the message of the power of the first 1001 days of children’s lives.

Gayle said, “I want to give people real life practical ideas that they can implement in order to connect with their children physically, emotionally and mentally in a loving way expressed through communication, play and physical touch. We’ll be hearing from psychologists, mental health experts, doulas, therapists, yoga and massage teachers…. the list goes on. It’s not a conference, it’s an immersion into love and community. My dream is to awaken parents, carers and professionals globally so that we can raise loving children to become loving adults.”

So how can we invest in the first 1001 days to make a life-long difference to our little ones?

  1. Simply giving eye contact to our little ones is a deeply nurturing connection which most of us take for granted. So if you’ve been cooing over the changing table or bouncing baby face to face on your knee, you’re already getting it right. An emotional connection is established which enables babies to regulate, engage and relate. Later on, when babies are able to follow the caregiver’s gaze, infants can share important information with parents. This is an essential skill required to enjoy mutual play with the caregiver and is a central skill to the development of language and vocabulary.     

  2. Loving touch is incredibly important to babies and their parents and often starts these days with skin to skin contact in the delivery suite. Loving physical touch reduces stress levels in both baby and carer, also releasing oxytocin and helping improve sleep. 

  3. Talking with and even singing to our children stimulates the parts of the brain integral to speech development and general learning, impacting reading and writing skills in their early years. An easy way of starting to communicate with babies this way is to mimic their sounds and allow them to “talk” back to you. This kind of “conversation” affirms them and gives them the confidence to try new skills.

  4. Playing is fun however old we get, but for children, play is a vital part of learning; whether it’s skills, or about themselves and others, or about the world around them, play develops confidence, empathy and knowledge. In a tiny baby, ‘play’ looks like the feel of water at bathtime, or tummy time on a playmat…or even discovering there are toes on the end of your feet! For toddlers, playtime expands creatively, intuitively and physically and it’s all worth it     

“I take my hat off to lockdown parents,” says Gayle. “So many of them have done an outstanding job so far and I’m truly hopeful that their confidence will grow in these coming months and that lockdown will have been the making and not the breaking of them.”

Sponsored by Palmers, who this year celebrate their 180th anniversary of providing natural skincare products, ‘Nurturing The Future – 1001 days to save the World – Live!’ will be held in London on 9th October and will bring together the likes of; well-known parenting expert and highly regarded popular childcare author, Sarah Ockwell-Smith who specialises in the psychology and science of parenting, ‘gentle parenting’ and attachment theory, who will be speaking about the vital first 1001 days.  Joining her and Gayle will be Mark Williams, speaking on The Importance of Paternal Mental Health –  Mark founded International Father’s Mental Health Day and #Howareyoudad campaign to make sure all parents are having support for the whole family. 

Other key speakers include; Liz Pemberton, Director of The Black Nursery Manager Ltd who will speak about Why we must consider an Anti-racist approach with our children under 5.  Liz Stanford, owner of The Calm Birth School speaking on how to connect with your unborn baby and build the bridge to your future relationship and Alex Heath, founder of Traumatic Birth Recovery speaking about recognising and healing perinatal trauma and how this can create the foundation for deeper connections and more love.

Tickets are available now with prices ranging from £47 to £247 and can be purchased via the link:

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Event contributors:

Sarah Ockwell Smith

Gayle Berry

Mark Williams

Liz Pemberton

Liz Standford

Alex Heath

Carly Budd

Mandy Rees

Anna Le Grange

Camilla Douglas

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