It’s well known that babies are not a lover of vegetables. Researchers have long wondered why this is, surmising that it could be due to the somewhat bitter taste of many vegetables. Maybe it’s because the parent doesn’t like vegetables and so the distaste is passed on. Parents have long been instructed to introduce vegetables into their babies’ diet in order to try to offset a sweet tooth. Now, recent research has shown a new way to help teach your baby to love vegetables – even earlier than first foods.
The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, demonstrated that strong flavors were passed from mother to baby via the amniotic fluid. These flavors were also passed along to the baby via breast milk after birth.
“Things like vanilla, carrot, garlic, anise, mint — these are some of the flavors that have been shown to be transmitted to amniotic fluid or mother’s milk,” study leader Julie Mennella told NPR News.
An additional study tested this theory with carrots. One third of women were told to eat carrots during pregnancy, another third while breastfeeding and the final third abstained from carrots completely. When solid foods were introduced, the babies were served cereal made with carrot juice. Those who had been exposed to carrots during pregnancy or breastfeeding ate more of the carrot cereal.
It’s a good theory, but many parents feel that it isn’t an accurate one. Jo-Lynne Shane, mom of 3, says, “I ate next to no veggies while pregnant. My kids love them. I think it has more to do with the taste and quality of veggies I serve them now than what I ate while pregnant.” Mom of 2 Britt Reints agrees, saying, “I ate a ton of fruit with my first and he hates fruit. Both are good with veggies, which I didn’t eat near as much of.”
Kari Dahlen has a similar experience. With her first pregnancy, the only food that she could keep down was McDonald’s. With her second, she ate a lot of Taco Bell – both of which she no longer eats. Her older son enjoys a variety of fresh vegetables but prefers bland foods, while her younger son loves all things spicy, and just tolerates vegetables.
As far as the carrot theory in real life, I myself do not like carrots in any shape or form – barring carrot cake. My own six children all enjoy raw carrots, but not one of them will eat them in cooked form.
What has been your experience with your children and their enjoyment and intake of vegetables?