Mothers can reduce the chances of having fussy eaters by eating plenty of vegetables during pregnancy
The battle to get children to eat their fruit and veg begins in the womb, with pregnant women who enjoy a varied diet less likely to give birth to fussy eaters.
Researchers have found babies are more accepting of foods their mothers regularly ate while expectant and breast-feeding - indicating they get a taste for novel foods before birth and through breast milk.
In one study, children whose mothers regularly drank carrot juice ate twice as much carrot-flavoured cereal when being weaned.
Researcher Dr Julie Mennella from the Monell Centre in Philadelphia said: ‘The research clearly shows that if mothers eat a lot of fruit during lactation and pregnancy, then their child will be much more open to eating fruit during weaning. The same goes with vegetables.
‘Babies are already biologically hardwired to be attracted to foods containing sugar and salt, but may not be initially attracted to bitter foods such as green vegetables.
'They have to be exposed to fruit and vegetables if they are to learn to accept and like these flavours.
‘The good news is that our research shows that babies and their palates can learn very early on about healthy foods.
'Even before a child eats their first mouthful of food, they are learning about flavour through the amniotic fluid in the womb, and later through their mother’s milk.
‘The message is, eat the healthy food that you enjoy and when the baby is old enough to start weaning they will already be familiar with those flavours.’
As part of her research, discussed at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference, Dr Mennella tested 46 babies aged between six months and a year old for their liking of carrot-flavoured cereal.
Those whose mothers drank carrot juice several times a week while in the last three-months of pregnancy or when breast-feeding consumed more than 80g of the cereal, compared with 44g if their parent did not drink the juice.
Children are getting sensory information in the womb and through their mothers' milk
‘It was the first time these babies ate solid food, and it shows how we are primed by our earliest exposures,’ said Dr Mennella.
‘The research shows that children are getting sensory information in the womb and through their mothers’ milk.’
Although our earliest exposure to foods can help prevent a baby from being a fussy eater, Dr Mennella found that bottle-fed babies can quickly become more accepting if they are given fruit and vegetables when the first start eating solids.
In another test, green beans were given to babies for eight continuous days. On the first day, they ate an average of 50g of beans, but by the end of the experiment their consumption increased by almost two-thirds to 80g.
‘Regardless of if a child is breast or bottle-fed, it can still learn as soon as it starts to wean. If they are repeatedly exposed to fruit and vegetables early on, then they soon begin to accept these foods,’ said Dr Mennella.
‘Perseverance is key. By the age of two, there is no reason why a child should not have the same varied diet as an adult’.
She added that hiding broccoli in brownies was not the answer, as children need to learn to like the taste of the vegetable if they are to eat healthily.
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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2278615/The-secret-getting-children-eat-fruit-veg-Feed-theyre-womb.html#ixzz2KtanOKKU
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