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Want to Raise a Fruit-and-Veggie Lover? Be Persistent
Date:12/3/2007

Offering your baby healthy foods early and often works, research suggests

MONDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- If you want your baby to love fruits and veggies later in life, offer plenty of opportunities to try both as you introduce your infant to solid foods, new research suggests.

And mom, eat plenty of fruits and veggies while you're pregnant and breast-feeding so you'll help to pass on the preference for these healthy foods.

Those are the findings of a new study published in the December issue of Pediatrics.

Repeated exposure to fruits and vegetables in infancy is key, said study senior author Julie Mennella, a biopsychologist and member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. "They need to taste them to learn to like them."

And that face that babies can make the first time they taste a new food? Don't focus on it, Mennella suggested. "Even though they make these grimaces, when you offered the spoon again, the baby kept on eating," she said of her tiny study participants.

That grimace, she suspects, is innate and not a sign the baby hates the food and won't try it again.

For the study, Mennella and her co-author wanted to focus on how babies develop preferences for foods. They observed 45 infants, ranging in age from 4 months to 8 months, who had all been weaned to cereal but had very little experience eating fruits and vegetables. None had eaten green beans and only one had tried peaches, which were the two foods studied.

The infants were divided into two groups: One group got green beans at home for eight consecutive days, while the other got green beans and then peaches at home over the same eight days. The infants were also observed for acceptance of the foods for two days before the home test and two days afterward, at the Monell center.

The researchers also measured how much the babies ate and asked the mothers about their own eating
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