Want your baby to grow up eating more than mac 'n' cheese? Vary your diet while you're still pregnant.
A baby learns to love fruits and vegetables in the womb, and the preference for these foods can be reinforced or established in infancy, say researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. They found that pregnant and breastfeeding moms who ate peaches and green beans had babies who were more likely to enjoy those foods—and that frequent exposure to them also taught formula-fed babies to prefer their taste.
In other research, expectant moms who ate a Mediterranean diet, which typically contains many vegetables, had children who were less likely to suffer asthma and wheezing. Both studies should persuade pregnant and nursing women to eat lots of fruits and vegetables themselves—and then, when their babies are ready for solid food, to offer many chances to try them, says study author Julie Mennella, Ph.D., a psychobiologist at Monell.
"Familiarity influences preference," Mennella says. "If you give your baby repeated opportunities to taste these foods, lo and behold, the baby will be more accepting." She warns that babies often grimace while trying new foods, but that doesn't mean they don't like the taste.