Early Flavour Learning
Updated: Apr 12, 2021
If you’re a parent of a toddler, chances are you’ve dealt with some form of picky eating. You may wonder to yourself if it’s possible for your little one to survive off the air around her. Or marvel at how your sweet little angel can see spinach on her plate and transform like Bruce. Banner. This is okay! And a fairly common experience in North American homes. For our top tips on managing picky eating, check out this article. For now, we’re diving into the world of early flavour learning and the possibility of training our babies to accept a wider variety of tastes and textures.
So what is early flavour learning? It’s the process through which a child can be taught to like and prefer certain flavours. Since flavours from vegetables are so often rejected in childhood, those would be ones to target. Research shows that influencing flavour preference starts in the womb! When a pregnant woman eats a diet composed of a variety of foods and flavours, baby can taste those flavours in utero and begin to develop preferences. The same principle applies to breastmilk. Mothers who breastfeed their babies can eat plenty of veggies to expose their children to those flavour profiles early, thereby decreasing the likelihood that their child will reject those foods in the future.
At this point, you might be thinking back to your intense pregnancy cravings for mac and cheese and cinnamon buns. What happens if you couldn’t eat a variety of foods through pregnancy or if your baby was formula fed? Not to worry! Research also suggests that kids can still be taught to like certain tastes before the age of two. This really encourages us to embrace a variety of flavours when we feed our kids. Starting from a young age, experiment with different spices and herbs to see what works and provide that exposure. For some inspiration, see the roundup below!
4-6+ month (purees)
Peach and Mango puree with a splash of vanilla extract
Pea and zucchini puree with mint
Carrot and cauliflower puree with a pinch of curry powder or turmeric
Broccoli and sweet potato with garlic powder
Chicken and barley puree with rosemary
Prune puree with cloves
Baby-led weaning and Toddler Finger Foods
Oatmeal with nutmeg and cinnamon
Pesto pasta (short cut pasta like elbow macaroni, orzo etc.)
Taco bowls - black beans, with rice and soft-cooked veggies with cilantro and plain high-fat yogurt
French toast sticks with natural peanut butter dipped in applesauce
Egg cups with butternut squash, spinach and cheese
Quick tzatziki - plain yogurt or Greek yogurt with shredded cucumbers and fresh dill. Use as a dipper or added to rice and pasta.
Fruit salad with honey lemon dressing (over age 1)
Finger food Greek salad - crumbled feta, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and shredded chicken
Ground chicken meatball with shredded peach and fresh thyme
Apple, leek, and cheddar quesadillas or flatbread
Curried egg salad sandwiches
Ginger chicken and rice
The possibilities are endless! Exposure to all manner of foods and spices will help build their preference. Think dressings, dips and all herbs and spices. The more adventurous you are the better. Take advantage of the opportunity and allow your kids to experiment with all sorts of flavours and textures while they are young. It may well lead to an adventurous little eater who helps the rest of you broaden your palates! For more information or to book an appointment for your child, contact us, we love to help!