Izzy (and Mama) Eat: The Gourmand Grows up...

Tales of Empty Nesting ...The Next Chapter

Monday, December 3, 2007

Good Taste, It Starts Early...From Pregnancy To Starting Solids

If you read my blog, you know that I revel in the fact that my son eats most everything. It is my belief that this did not happen by accident. There are many things a parent can do to help their children eat well. Current research is only beginning to support this and I hope to see further related studies.

As I have noted before, the French have already conducted research with breastfeeding mothers, showing a correlation between what they ate and their babies' preferences. The mothers who were given an anise-flavored beverage had babies who preferred this flavor. This comes as no surprise since breast milk varies in flavor, depending upon the mother's diet.

More recent research seems to indicate that a mother's diet while pregnant may also influence the child's tastes later on. I know that many have anecdotal evidence which doesn't support this theory. They claim to have children who dislike the foods they ate during pregnancy. I would love to delve a bit further into their claims.

Although I do believe that what a mother eats during pregnancy and while nursing can have a profound effect on a child's tastes, I think that shaping the palate requires more than that. It is the introduction of that food when the baby begins eating solids, which helps cement the child's relationship to it.

Often mothers will introduce a food and find that baby is not interested in it. They may try a few times and give up. Many mothers don't realize that it may take at least 12 exposures to a food before a baby is interested in eating it.

A few things to keep in mind when starting solids:

1. Start slowly: Introduce new foods one at a time. Continue to offer that food for about three days.

2. Make your own baby food if possible: It is truly more appealing that what you will find in a jar and it really helps prime your child's palate for clear, healthy flavors.

3. Be persistent: If your baby doesn't seem to like a food after a few days, give it a rest. Then reintroduce it in a few weeks, alongside something she does eat. If you are nursing, be sure to eat the food the day before offering it.

4. Eat when your baby eats. Babies are social eaters and will be more inclined to eat if they see you enjoying food.

5. Take a lighthearted approach to mealtime. Food should have positive and fun associations. Children should look forward to eating.

There are many more ways you can encourage your children to have a positive relationship with food. Sprinkled throughout this blog are ideas to help you get started. After all, eating is one of life's greatest pleasures and hopefully it will be for your children too!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a FANTASTIC post with great advice. I wish you had been around to give me this advice when Lucy was a baby.

I am a believer in everything you said. I will add one little thing - I've talked to a lot of women who are daunted by the idea of making baby food from scratch. It doesn't seem "organic" to their personalities, especially if they don't cook or don't like to cook.

So, to them I suggest they use the organic jar food (with the cereal) for the first month or two of solids just to introduce a little texture and then, they can jump right to mashed up table food - fruit, avocado, etc. and get off the jar.

I think getting off the jar as soon as possible really helps build the palate and gets kids used to the different feel of food in their mouths. My kids went off pureed foods after two months and I just mashed up whatever we ate and they did well.

Also, studies have shown babies as young as 6 months (in countries like India, where spicy foods are prevalent) tolerate spice quite well. So,I think bland is not necessary at all.

Anyway, this is my favorite post of yours! Well done!