According to a new study, there’s a simple way to make sure your offspring chow down their greens without having to be bribed – breastfeed them.
Researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Centre in Philadelphia have found that babies whose mothers consume a diet rich in veggies are less likely to turn their noses up at them later in life.
This is because the newborns are repeatedly exposed to the subtle flavours through their mother’s milk, conditioning their tastebuds from an early age and making them far more likely to be partial to the taste when they’re able to process solid foods.
“Every baby’s sensory experience is unique, but the flavour of their first food, beginning in utero, is dependent on what mum is eating,” lead study author, Julie Mennella, explains.
“The way I see it is: Mother’s milk is the ultimate in precision medicine.”
The researchers told 97 new mums to drink beetroot, celery or carrot juice and then tracked the eating habits of their infants as they grew up.
The women were split into five groups: three groups drank half a cup of juice before nursing for a month with each starting at a different time (when their babies were either two weeks, six weeks or 10-weeks-old.)
A fourth group drank juice for three months, beginning when their tots were two-weeks-old. The fifth group drank no juice at all.
When the babies reached eight-months-old, the researchers monitored their responses as they were offered cereals laced with carrot or broccoli.
The results showed that the infants whose mothers had drank the veggie juice from the earliest opportunity much preferred the carrot flavour over the plain or unfamiliar taste of broccoli. They also ate more of the cereal and gobbled it up faster.
“They learn through repeated exposure,” Mennella concludes. “And the timing is important.”
While breastfeeding is widely recognised to give newborns the best nutritional start in life, it’s not always the best option for all.
For more information visit the Breastfeeding Helpline: 1800 686 268