Want your preschooler to eat veggies without a fuss? Try eatingwhile you’re .
That’s the message from a new study of lactating mothers and their breast-fed babies. The study found that those infants who took in veggie-flavored breast-milk were less likely to turn away from similar-tasting cereal when they graduated to more solid food.
“Every baby’s sensory experience is unique, but the flavor of their first food, beginning in utero, is dependent on what mom is eating,” said Julie Mennella. She is a biopsychologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, and led the study.
“The way I see it is: Mother’s milk is the ultimate in precision medicine,” Mennella said.
When an expectant mother eats vegetables, they flavor her amniotic fluid — and later, her breast-milk — and those flavors get passed along to her baby. As a result, the researchers said, if the baby learns early how veggies taste, he or she will be less apt to squawk when offered that first spoonful.
That’s a boon for parents and for the nation’s health. One in four U.S. toddlers doesn’t eat even one vegetable a day, the study authors noted. Like many of their moms and other adults, kids are more likely to choose sweet and salty snacks and, which contribute to obesity and chronic disease.
“Everybody wants to get baby off to a good start,” Mennella said, adding the first weeks of life are prime time for babies and mothers alike to develop a taste for healthy food.
For her study, Mennella randomly assigned 97 breast-feeding mothers to one of five groups.
For a month, three groups drank a half-cup of carrot, celery, beet or vegetable juice before nursing. One group began when babies were two weeks old, another at 1-1/2 months of age and the third at 2-1/2 months.
A fourth group of moms drank juice for three months, starting when their babies were two weeks old. A fifth group — the “control” group — did not use juice.
As solid foods were added to the diet, moms were videotaped offering plain cereal, carrot-flavored or broccoli-flavored cereals to their babies. The researchers watched for signs of disgust from the babies — wrinkled noses, curled lips, frowns or more emphatic slaps at the spoon.
The takeaway: Babies who’d been exposed to vegetable flavors inpreferred carrot-flavored cereal over plain cereal or cereal with the unfamiliar taste of broccoli. Only 8 percent rejected all of the foods, the findings showed.
“They learn through repeated…