Health

How you can make your unborn child like veggies

Your baby doesn't just hear your voice in utero - he tastes your food, too. That's right - every ice-cream binge (and valiant substitute fruit-and-veggie binge) trickles down through the amniotic fluid into your baby's mouth, setting them up to like what you've been eating. Could this mean you're responsible for them turning up their noses at vegetables?

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Your baby doesn’t just hear your voice in utero — he tastes your food, too. Every ice-cream binge (and valiant substitute fruit-and-veggie binge) trickles down through the amniotic fluid into your baby’s mouth, setting them up to like what you’ve been eating. Could this mean you’re responsible for them turning up their noses at vegetables as toddlers?

Scientists at the Montell Chemical Senses Center say that what moms eat affects their babies’ food preferences. They fed some mothers carrot juice while they were pregnant, and then fed their kids cereal in carrot juice. The kids whose mothers drank the juice ate more of the carrot cereal, and they made fewer “negative faces” while doing so, according to reseracher Julie Mennella. (For a video of
Mennella explaining the phenomenon, click here.)

“It’s a really nice theory, says Catherine J. Field, a professor of nutrition at the University of Alberta. “Dr. Mennella’s research suggests that the baby consumes these normal dietary compounds in the womb and develops a likeing for them later in life. It could be used in a positive way…if mom eats lots of fruit and veggies and less sugary and fast foods, and the baby likes fruits and veggies better. And Dr. Mennlla believes that this might last a lifetime in the child, as sort of a programing effect.”  

A recent article by NPR highlighted the findings and prompted some nice anecdotes from people whose mothers ate, say, apples during pregnancy who now consider apples a food favourite. As well, there is some discussion of exactly how fair it is to ask moms to feed their kids perfectly, starting at the moment of conception. “It’s hard enough to maintain a well-rounded diet amidst the strange cravings and taste aversions that occur during pregnancy to have to also be preoccupied with your unborn’s flavor experience,” pointed out commenter Julia Tanner.