Taste development is super important for our little ones, especially in the first 1000 days. Because what babies learn to eat then can determine what they eat the rest of their lives.
Our little ones start to ‘eat’ and develop their taste preferences while they are still in mommy's belly. Some research suggests that this process starts as early as the fourth month(!). As this process continues in the breastfeeding / milk phase, little ones will have a natural preference for sweeter tastes when they are ready for their first foods.
But this is nothing to worry about. According to experts, babies love discovering the more exciting and complex tastes and this is also what we learned from our own experience with Olivia. For this to be successful, it is crucial to introduce the little ones to all these tastes often and early.
Yet, where we live, it is common to focus only on traditional and simple ingredients to start the weaning process. This can be a missed opportunity: this discovery and learning phase of our little ones (called metabolic imprinting) can be put to work much more. Because just think about all the countries where they start off on herbs, spices, more exotic veggies and fruits, fish and legumes. They love it! This shows that babies will learn to love what they are exposed to.
The picky eater
We have all heard about the ‘picky eater’, and most of the time this coincides with the preference for sweet tastes and around the time of the so-called ‘terrible twos’. Without a doubt, this can be a very challenging time for both the little one and us parents. But central to these babies growing into toddlers is that they want to explore the world around them by themselves and so they are super curious. So why not take full advantage of this and expose them to every food possible to fully develop their pallet? Just make them try lots of different recipes and ingredients, over and over and over in this period… and maybe we can even just skip over the ‘picky eater’ phase.
When I was learning to cook, one of the fundamental philosophies that chefs believed in was that all great dishes must not only be delicious but also satisfying. And this latter point does not solely come from portion size! It comes from satisfying our taste buds… sweet of course, but also salty, bitter, sour, and umami must all be used. I fully believe in this as well and it is not that I use this in every meal, but I try to achieve this over the healthy meals I prepare for our family.
When I cook, I am constantly using combinations of the 5 taste profiles and so far, I have not found one that Olivia does not like. There is one important point here, I NEVER use sugar or sugar substitutes. In addition to that, Olivia does not get added salt with her food. It is not really needed thanks to the many spices and herbs I combine with great tasting natural ingredients.
5 benefits of creating diverse and exciting recipes for your little one:
1) Babies are not afraid to try new things, and they love to experiment. They are only limited by our imagination in what to prepare.
2) We need to expand the baby’s taste palate via introducing exciting ingredients, to help them become healthy eaters. There are so many ways to prepare the different ingredients, try them all!
3) Expanding the baby’s taste palate can help prevent it from becoming a ‘picky eater’.
4) Babies will (and need to!) get used to many new flavours, smells, and textures. Sometimes it just takes several attempts to get there.
5) And… most importantly, let us teach our little ones to love the whole experience of food and mealtime. This will lead to healthier eaters. So, sit down, eat with them, eat the same food as them, and enjoy getting a little avocado on your shirt😊.
This philosophy is also what is behind all recipes we created for our products at Pumpkin Organics. Prepared with a wide variety of ingredients, combined to create exciting taste profiles, without containing any additives, salt or added sugar and being low in naturally occurring fruit sugar. All to develop healthy eaters and allow for more time for fun at the table. Check us out here.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is merely to inform and inspire and not intended to provide any medical or nutritional advice whatsoever. In case you have any concerns or questions, Pumpkin Organics recommends seeking advice from your healthcare provider.