Posts Tagged ‘healthy food for babies’

Yes You Can(!) Teach Your Baby to Love Veggies

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008


Want your baby to learn to like fruits and veggies? If you’re breastfeeding, you can start by eating these healthy foods yourself, according to new research published in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers also suggest offering your baby plenty of opportunities to taste fruits and vegetables as she makes the transition to solid foods, by repeatedly exposing her to these healthy foods — regardless of whether you’re breastfeeding or using formula.

“The best predictor of how many fruits and vegetables children eat is whether they like the tastes of these foods. If we can get babies to learn to like these tastes, we can get them off to an early start toward healthy eating,” says study author Julie A. Mennella, Ph.D.

The researchers studied 45 infants between four and eight months old, 20 of whom were breastfed. The results revealed that breast-feeding confers an advantage for a baby’s acceptance of foods during weaning — but only if the mother regularly eats those foods.

“It’s a beautiful system,” says Mennella. “Flavors from the mother’s diet are transmitted through amniotic fluid and mother’s milk. So a baby learns to like a food’s taste when the mother eats that food on a regular basis.” Babies are born with a natural dislike for bitter tastes, explains Mennella. “If mothers want their babies to learn to like to eat vegetables, especially green vegetables, they need to provide them with opportunities to taste these foods.”

Apparently a look on a baby’s face that says “yuck!” doesn’t mean all that much, the researchers note. They found that babies’ facial expressions did not always match their willingness to continue eating a particular food, noting that infants innately display facial expressions of distaste to certain flavors. They urge parents to provide their baby with repeated opportunities to taste fruits and vegetables, focusing on the infant’s willingness to eat the food instead of on negative facial expressions during mealtime.