Having problems getting your little one to enjoy non-sweet things like veggies? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to overcome this (one of which is patience), but first, let’s focus on the problem:
Why is it so challenging to get your little one to like veggies?
According to many studies conducted by scientists and doctors, it is now understood that children have an innate preference for sweet and may initially reject vegetables due to evolutionary reasons. This is because our ancestors, who were surrounded by all kinds of plants, developed a genetic predisposition and a natural protective response to bitter or sour tasting food, as these had a higher chance of being poisonous. This way, through evolution our bodies have naturally come to learn to reject something that could be potentially dangerous. In children, this natural response is triggered from the bitterness of vegetables due to an underdeveloped pallet and tastes.1
Additionally, the sweetness of breast or formula milk soothes and provides comfort to children. After six months however, breastmilk or formula is not enough to meet the nutritional requirements of babies and complementary feeding needs to be introduced. According to Dr. RD Murray, a renowned pediatrician from Columbus, OH, USA, we now know that inappropriate introduction to complementary feeding through food that is sweet could delay the acceptance of healthy food such as vegetables. In other words, when children do not get used to non-sweet food like veggies early on and instead consume sweet food, it might take way longer to develop healthy eating habits. Babies must therefore, be introduced to a variety of foods rich in different flavours, textures and colours to develop their pallets and their acceptance to vegetables.2
In one very interesting article: “Savoring Sweet: Sugars in Infant and Toddler Feeding2”, Dr RD Murray, brings together his extensive research in infant food and nutrition. He emphasizes on the negative effect that sugar has during the initial years of a baby’s life and in laying the foundation for healthy eating habits. As children have an innate preference for sweet food, Dr Murray claims that bitter tasting food such as vegetables must be introduced as early as 6 months to promote acceptance.
Another engaging study “Baby’s first bites: a randomized controlled trial3….”also confirms that kids exposed to vegetables early during complementary feeding nearly double their intake whereas those who receive more fruits show an increase in the intake of fruits but not vegetables.
To sum up, we now understand why our tiny tots reject vegetables (innate preference) and what must be done to promote acceptability (start them early on veggies). Simple? Well not so much. Stay tuned for our next week’s post on how we “hopefully can” accomplish this!
If you can’t wait for our next post, Pumpkin Organics has some yummy veggie purees. There is no way your kid will say no to vegetables with a Pumpkin Organics puree!