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Is your diet influencing your baby’s taste preferences?

3 min read

I am sure nobody wants their child to end up being a fussy eater. Right?

So, let’s understand how the baby’s palate and food memories are shaped actually before birth!

 

THE TASTE FACTOPEDIA

  • Do you know that the baby starts developing taste for different foods when in the uterus, based on what the mother eats during pregnancy?! Yes! They can actually get the taste of what the mother eats. And that will act as a foundation of what the child likes and dislikes when he grows up. It is, therefore, important that the mother select her food wisely.
  • The taste buds develop where the baby’s tongue will be, by as early as week 8 of pregnancy. However, the baby won’t be able to taste anything before week 16 when the taste pores develop on the surface of the tongue. This is the time they’ll start swallowing amniotic fluid too.
  • According to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study, babies can taste different flavors of mother’s foods through 2 mediums – amniotic fluid (when still inside) and mother’s milk (once outside).
  • The taste, however, won’t be as distinct as the mother gets it since the taste of food is actually amplified by its smell which can be sensed by the mother and the baby doesn’t have it as yet.
  • But, since the fetus swallows the amniotic fluid from time to time, they get direct access to ‘transmittable’ flavors, influencing the acceptance of those foods in the future.
  • Another study conducted on pregnant women who drank carrot juice for 3 weeks continuously in their last trimester, found that their babies made fewer negative expressions when they were introduced to carrot-flavored cereal later.                                                                                                                                                     

 Thus, basically, foods women had while pregnant was easy to introduce to their infants’ as solid foods. So, if you have enjoyed eating fresh fruits and veggies during pregnancy rather than having packaged foods, your baby might also enjoy those flavors when they grow up!

  • It has also been found that some flavors imbibed by the lactating mother appear in breast milk, like garlic, vanilla, star anise, mint, carrot, and alcohol. This indicates, what you eat could subtly change the flavor of the breast milk and the baby starts to understand different flavors gradually.

 

I believe that just like me, pregnant women around the world eat foods common to where they live and as per their very own culture. Whether we love spicy ethnic foods or prefer simply prepared meals, we are gearing our baby up to accept the culinary traditions of our family! After all, chances are high that what we are eating now will be what we’ll feed our child in the future.

 

THE FRAGRANCE OF AMNIOTIC FLUID

A research was conducted on a group of women to authenticate if flavors are passed from the mother to the baby via the amniotic fluid. Here, women were asked to have garlic capsules before taking a routine sample of their amniotic fluid and another set of women were used as placebo — and then it was smelled.

Tada! They could pick out the samples easily from the women who ate garlic because the sense of taste is actually 90-percent smell, so they knew just from the odor that the babies could taste it.

SETTING THE BABY UP FOR NUTRITIONAL SUCCESS

  • As per the dietary guidelines for Indian pregnant women by National Institute Of Nutrition [NIN], a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, pulses, legumes, chicken, fish, nuts and seeds while limiting excess salt, fat and added sugars is recommended.
  • So, eating from a wide variety of food groups and cuisines exposes your baby to different tastes when they grow up.
  • Basically, it is important to make every bite count! Therefore, make sure to load up with healthiest foods to fuel your pregnancy as well as keep a check on what you eat while lactating.
  • Eggs, berries, yogurt, whole grains, beans, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, fish [particularly salmon], avocados, nuts, and seeds are some pregnancy superfoods.
  • Flavor exposure also continues for babies through breast milk (as mentioned above). So, if you plan to breastfeed, your baby will also share the spicy, sweet, sour or bitter flavors you’ve eaten between feedings.

 

Remember, the baby’s diet is introduced first through the womb, then through breastmilk and later through his environment. So, if you want your child to eat everything, you should too!

 

So, the next time someone tells you to “eat for two”, what they might be actually meaning is that your baby tastes all the flavors of your food with you! So make sure you eat healthily and mindfully – for both of you! 🙂

 

Zahra Nulwala, Dietitian, Sports Nutritionist

Zahra is a qualified Dietitian and a Sports Nutritionist (‘Nutritionista’ to her loved ones) who practices a holistic approach to health and wellness. She helps her clients to change their relationship with food into a positive one which results in having a lasting impact on their nutritional choices as well as their lives.

She believes that a healthy, balanced life is a journey, not a destination and it’s never late to get on board!

In her own words, “Nothing tastes better than feeling great! :)”

Zahra Nulwala, Dietitian, Sports Nutritionist

Zahra Nulwala, Dietitian, Sports Nutritionist

Zahra is a qualified Dietitian and a Sports Nutritionist ('Nutritionista' to her loved ones) who practices a holistic approach to health and wellness. She helps her clients to change their relationship with food into a positive one which results in having a lasting impact on their nutritional choices as well as their lives. She believes that a healthy, balanced life is a journey, not a destination and it's never late to get on board! In her own words, "Nothing tastes better than feeling great! :)"

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