Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Infant's Innate Food Preferences

Infants are born neophobics, instinctively afraid of anything new and prefer to eat what is familiar to them. It is clear that humans have an innate preference for sweet flavors and an aversive reaction to sour and bitter flavors. Studies have been done on newborns during the first few hours and days of life. It was found that infants prefer sweet tasting foods over sour or bitter tasting foods. The evidence of preference of sweet flavors was observed through the facial expressions that were made.

Desor & Associates (1973) found that infants would also eat more of a sweet-tasting substance. This led to some questions in my mind: Is breast milk sweet? And could this be why infants have an innate preference for sweet-tasting substances? Could this preference be a form of survival? Infants require the food source, breast milk for adequate nutrition and to aid in their growth and development. Most doctors will recommend a mother to breastfeed over using formula. I thought that maybe this preference for sweet-flavored substances was a normal survival instinct to avoid ingestion of potentially harmful foods. I thought about it and did some research and found that it really did depend on what the mother’s diet was that was breastfeeding her child. The article I read also found a link between breast milk flavor and what a child’s food preference would be in the future. Researchers suggest that flavors from varieties of food transferred through breast milk can have an influence on the foods children will eat in their transition to eating solid foods. The article discusses how infants can develop early food acceptance patterns if the mother’s diet includes a variety of foods.

Here are the interesting articles I read:

Breast Milk Flavor May Affect How a Child Eats

Food Acceptance Patterns

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