We all known kids who turn their noses up at raw carrots, balk at anything green that touches their plate, and practically run away from broccoli. But if you breastfed your child, it’s less likely your kid fell into the vegetable-hating group.
A new study from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, published in July in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concludes that breastfed babies are more likely to turn into vegetable-eating kids.
Formula is relatively bland in taste, but breastmilk is flavored by what the mother eats, so its taste is dynamic and ever-changing. This is why breastfed babies tend to be less picky eaters when they grow older and eat solid food, as earlier research has pointed out. This may also be why babies who are breastfed are more likely to eat vegetables than babies who are formula-fed.
In the study, 97 mother-infant breastfeeding pairs were randomly placed in groups in which the mothers drank vegetable, beet, celery, and carrot juices for 1 month starting at 2 weeks, 6 weeks, or 10 weeks postpartum. Alternatively, mothers in one of the groups drank the juices for 3 months starting at 2 weeks postpartum. The control group drank equal volumes of water instead and avoided the vegetable juices. After weaning, researchers measured the acceptance by infants of carrot-flavored cereal.
What the researchers found was that as little as one month’s worth of vegetable juice consumption by the mother, beginning at 2 weeks postpartum, significantly affected the infant’s likelihood of eating carrot-flavored cereal. Infants breastfed by mothers who began drinking the vegetable juices later or not at all were less likely to eat the carrot-flavored cereal.
Furthermore, the researchers found a bonus for moms — mothers liked the tastes of vegetable juices increasingly over time. However, liking vegetable juices didn’t translate into changed behavior. They didn’t begin eating more vegetables.
Still, there’s hope for both mothers and children here. The taste of veggies can grow on mothers and, by breastfeeding, they’ll also grow on their babies.