When peaches were first introduced, breastfed infants ate more peaches than non-breastfed infants – if their mothers also ate a lot of peaches while breastfeeding. “We know that flavors in the mother’s diet are transmitted to the infant through breast milk,” says study author Julie a. Mennella, PhD, a biopsychologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.
The lesson: When you eat a lot of produce during pregnancy and breastfeeding, your baby’s tastebuds will naturally enjoy those foods, too. A friendly reminder: You should aim for three cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit a day (although most adults fall far short of these recommendations). What’s the best way to do this? Eat some at every meal or snack. For example: a glass of orange juice and a cup of breakfast cereal, baby carrots as a morning snack, an apple or banana peanut butter in the afternoon, and a big salad every night for dinner is all you need to stay healthy and get your baby off to a good start.
Keep serving the same things
In the same study, breastfed and formula-fed infants consumed green beans daily for more than a week – and at the end of that time, both groups consumed nearly three times as many vegetables as they did at the start.
The lesson: Give it time. “Infants are not born with a taste for bitter foods, and most greens are bitter,” Mennella says. “They’re an acquired taste – the more your baby eats, the more he or she will like them.”
You can also try pairing vegetables with sweet fruits. In this study, infants seemed to prefer green beans when they were fed peaches shortly after. Mennella says: “Babies learn to associate the sweetness of the fruit with the vegetables, and that may motivate them to eat more over time.” .
Ignore those “pesky” faces
Yes, your baby may wrinkle his nose and frown when you give him something unfamiliar for the first time, and he’ll wrinkle his nose and frown and make a “why did you make me try that” face-but that doesn’t mean he won’t keep eating it. But that doesn’t mean he won’t keep eating. “That look of displeasure is a subconscious reaction,” Mennella says. “We found that even after making those faces, the infant would still accept a spoonful of vegetables.”
The lesson: Look at the big picture. You don’t want to force your baby to eat, but don’t rely solely on his facial expressions. With repeated exposure, your baby may increase his intake of fruits and vegetables more quickly than changing his face when he eats them.
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