Bland isn’t always better when it comes to infants’ eating habits. In fact, a series of new nutritional studies funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, found that foods our babies eat before they learn to walk greatly affects their palates (likes and dislikes) in the years to come. The studies, which took into account things like breast feeding, along with economical and racial differences that could sway the data, seemed to suggest that what children start off eating in the first year directly corresponds with their eating habits throughout childhood.
According to a recent New York Times article:
Investigators tracked the diets of roughly 1,500 six-year-olds, comparing their eating patterns to those observed in a study that followed them until age 1.”
Findings suggest that school-age children who are not exposed to a variety of healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables during infancy are unlikely to eat these foods later on in life. Likewise, children given sugary drinks as babies continued that same pattern as they aged.
Kelley Scanlon, an epidemiologist at the C.D.C. and the senior author of a few of the new studies, explains in the New York Times that, “when infants had infrequent consumption of fruits and vegetables, they also had infrequent consumption at 6.”
She, along with her colleagues suggest that it is in the best interest of a child to begin introducing them to fruits and vegetables roughly between the ages of 10-12 months, rather than waiting until he or she becomes a picky toddler.
These studies bring a new call for parental education. Infants by nature are quick to dismiss anything strange or bitter, even if it may be packed with nutrients. In light of these studies it is important that parents not be dissuaded by their child’s initial negative response.
Another NYTimes article, “Six Food Mistakes Parents Make”, states:
...parents should keep preparing a variety of healthful foods and putting them on the table, even if a child refuses to take a bite. In young children, it may take 10 or more attempts over several months to introduce a food.”
As the saying goes, when we know better we can do better. Hopefully these studies will help us all make more informed choices when we’re dishing out those first little bites.
- 6 Food Mistakes Parents Make via NYTimes
- Childhood Diet Habits Set in Infancy, Studies Suggest via NYTimes