Saturday, March 8, 2008


Eat Your Veggies and Your Kids Will Too

If you want your baby to enjoy eating fruits and vegetables—start by eating them yourself, suggest researchers in a study published in the December 2007 issue of Pediatrics. According to the study, breast-feeding may promote initial acceptance of specific foods, such as fruits and vegetables, but only if the mother consumes these foods on a consistent basis. After the baby is weaned, researchers then suggest giving the infant many opportunities to sample fruits and vegetables, as babies exposed to a particular food tend to eat more of it and may learn to enjoy its flavor. In the study, 45 infants, of whom 44% were breastfed, were assigned randomly to one of two groups: one group was fed green beans and the other was fed green beans and then peaches, at the same time, for 8 consecutive days. Initially, the breastfed infants ate more peaches than green beans, as did their mothers. For both breastfed and formula-fed infants, repeated exposure to green beans, with or without peaches, resulted in more green bean consumption (93.6 g vs 56.8 g). The researchers also noted that infants’ facial expressions were not always linked to their willingness to continue feeding, as babies innately display dislike for bitter tastes.

Bottom Line: Breastfeeding confers an advantage in initial food acceptance of a food, but only if mothers eat the food regularly. Once weaned, infants who receive repeated dietary exposure to a food eat more of it and may learn to like its flavor. “Mothers should be encouraged to provide their infants with repeated opportunities to taste fruits and vegetables,” write the authors. “And [they] should focus not only on their infants’ facial expressions, but also on their willingness to continue feeding.”

(Journal of the American Dietetic Association, March, 2008)