|START THEM YOUNG|
According to a study released in December, babies who are given fruits and vegetables to eat will learn to accept them, even if they initially don't' seem to like them.
For a while now you've seen the signs in food stores encouraging the consumption of a variety and an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Eating at least five servings per day has been associated with a decreased risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and obesity. But according to the authors of this study, one in four toddlers may not even eat one vegetable serving per day and are more likely to consume sweet and fatty foods instead of vegetables. This is probably as much an indication of the parent's preferences as it is the child's.
In this study, published in Pediatrics, 45 infants from 4-8 months old were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups: for eight consecutive days the first was fed green beans and the second was fed green beans and then peaches. Both groups were given commercially available infant foods.
The infants in the second group initially ate more calories from peaches than green beans, as they appeared to prefer the sweet taste. When mothers continued to offer green beans, with or without peaches, babies in both groups ate increasing amounts of green beans over the course of the eight days.
Babies who were fed the green beans and the peaches had fewer facial expressions of distaste than those who received only green beans. And those who were breast-fed had greater initial acceptance of a food if the mothers regularly ate that food, suggesting that their taste for the food was influenced by exposure to it through breast milk.
The authors concluded that it's best to keep introducing healthy fruits and vegetables, even if your child doesn't appear to like them. They said, "The best predictor of how many fruits and vegetables children eat is whether they like the taste of these foods." And just as adults develop a taste for coffee or beer, children can develop a taste for healthful foods.
In today's environment of rampant food sensitivities I don't suggest introducing any food other than breast milk in the first six months of a baby's life. If you do, grow your own if possible, or at least feed organically grown baby food. That way your child will develop a taste for vegetables and fruit that is not laced with toxic herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides.
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