New moms take note: If you eat fruits and vegetables while breastfeeding, chances are your kids will like them too. That’s according to a Monell Center study designed to test the influence of early sensory experiences on the development of healthy eating patterns.
Researchers found that breastfeeding increases a baby’s acceptance of foods during weaning, provided the mother regularly eats those foods.
“It’s a beautiful system,” researcher Julie A. Mennella told the journal Pediatrics. “Flavors from the mother’s diet are transmitted through amniotic fluid and mother’s milk. So, a baby learns to like a food’s taste when the mother eats that food on a regular basis.”
Mennella adds that because babies are born with a dislike for bitter tastes, it’s important to expose them to foods like green vegetables.
The study also found that a baby’s facial expressions did not always match their willingness to continue feeding. Therefore, researchers urged caregivers to focus on their baby’s willingness to eat the food instead of on their negative facial expressions during eating, and provide them with repeated opportunities to taste fruits and veggies.
Why does this matter to you? If you’re breastfeeding, now’s the time to start influencing your child’s healthy eating habit! And give your baby plenty of chances to taste fruits and veggies while transitioning to solid foods–even if they grimace.