Research shows that long-term fruit and vegetable intake is influenced by infancy and early childhood exposure to a variety of flavors and textures. Food choices are a contributing factor to chronic disease, and they are determined by taste preferences. Helping people develop taste preferences for fruits and vegetables can make a positive influence on long-term dietary intake and health outcomes.
The first two years of life children are the most receptive to new flavors, so this time period is critical in establishing long-term taste preferences. If children are exposed to the flavors and textures of a variety of healthy foods at a young age, they are more likely to learn to accept these foods and consume them throughout their lives.
Three recommendations for establishing taste preferences for fruits and vegetables in infants and children:
Limit added sugars, especially in children younger than two years.
Encourage pregnant women and lactating women to eat a variety of health foods, including fruits and vegetables.
Research shows that flavors can travel through amniotic fluid and breastmilk, exposing infant to a variety of flavors before they are even ready to eat solid foods.
Offer new foods and flavors to infants and children regularly.
Children need repeated exposures to a new food or flavor to become familiar with and accept the new food.
Have you heard of the WIC Program?
WIC is a supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children. WIC provides nutrition and breastfeeding services as well as supplemental foods. WIC provides a nutritious and colorful variety of foods for your family. USDA has increased the cash benefits on WIC to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. Amounts have increase to $24.00/month per child and up to $47/month for breastfeeding moms. Breastfeeding moms of twins can actually get $70.50/month! Current WIC clients are loving this increase and is helping them to have fresh produce in their fridge all month.
If you are interested in seeing if you qualify for the WIC program, please visit this page: https://health.utah.gov/vpms/client/