How to Raise a Child Who Likes Healthy Food

October 26, 2022 Children

Did you know your baby prefers certain flavors even before they are born? And the flavors they like during their first year may tell you what they will want to eat as they grow up? It’s true! While some of your baby’s flavor preferences are present at birth, you still have a lot of influence in helping them like other healthy foods, especially in their first year of life.

Born With a Preference
Babies are born with a natural tendency to like sweet, salty, and savory foods, and dislike bitter foods. Newborn research tells us that babies are “hard-wired” to like tastes that signal a benefit for them, like sweet flavors, which signal calories. Your baby has their own flavor preferences, which partly come from their genetic background. Some kids tend to be more sensitive to the bitter taste of foods, like vegetables, and may prefer sweets and sweet beverages because of this sensitivity.
During Pregnancy
Whether your baby likes a flavor or not depends on two senses: taste and smell. Both of these senses begin to develop early in your pregnancy and are fully mature at birth. In the womb, your baby tastes different flavors based on what you eat. After birth, your human milk also carries the flavors of your diet. From these two liquids, babies are exposed to different flavors very early. Babies who drink infant formula receive the same flavors every day until they begin eating solid food; the flavor of infant formula doesn’t change.
Infancy
When your baby starts solid foods, they will begin tasting and learning to like many new flavors. You can help by offering different flavors every day, especially as they grow from baby to toddler. This is what researchers call food exposure. In fact, scientists believe that babies and toddlers need to try a food up to 6 to 15 times to like it enough to eat more of it. Just seeing, smelling, or touching food is not enough—your baby needs to taste the food for exposure to work.

Make sure to offer new flavors in a relaxed and positive way at mealtime. Stay away from giving your baby a reward, such as a sweet treat, when they try a new food. Also, don’t pressure them to eat more than they want. These tactics may make them eat more than they are hungry for, turn off their hunger, or lead them to dislike the food.

What you eat at home will most likely be the foods your child will end up eating. So, buy, serve, and eat healthy foods, offering plenty of different fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Keep your baby away from sweets as long as possible. Exposure to sweets may steer them to prefer these foods, which may turn into a problem in the preschool years.
Early childhood is a time of building taste buds that like a wide range of foods. While your baby has tasted many flavors since you were pregnant, and after they were born, now is the time you can help them get on the right track with healthy flavor preferences by offering a lot of different foods to try.

Side-Lying Hold

  1. For the right breast, lie on your right side with your baby facing you.
  2. Pull your baby close. Your baby’s mouth should be level with your nipple.
  3. In this position, you can cradle your baby’s back with your left arm and support yourself with your right arm and/or pillows.
  4. Keep loose clothing and bedding away from your baby.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Cross-Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, use your left arm to hold your baby’s head at your right breast and baby’s body toward your left side. A pillow across your lap can help support your left arm.
  2. Gently place your left hand behind your baby’s ears and neck, with your thumb and index finger behind each ear and your palm between baby’s shoulder blades. Turn your baby’s body toward yours so your tummies are touching.
  3. Hold your breast as if you are squeezing a sandwich. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  4. As your baby’s mouth opens, push gently with your left palm on baby’s head to help them latch on. Make sure you keep your fingers out of the way.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Clutch or “Football” Hold

  1. For the right breast, hold your baby level, facing up, at your right side.
  2. Put your baby’s head near your right nipple and support their back and legs under your right arm.
  3. Hold the base of your baby’s head with your right palm. A pillow underneath your right arm can help support your baby’s weight.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Bring baby to you instead.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, cradle your baby with your right arm. Your baby will be on their left side across your lap, facing you at nipple level.
  2. Your baby’s head will rest on your right forearm with your baby’s back along your inner arm and palm.
  3. Turn your baby’s tummy toward your tummy. Your left hand is free to support your breast, if needed. Pillows can help support your arm and elbow.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Laid-Back Hold

  1. Lean back on a pillow with your baby’s tummy touching yours and their head at breast level. Some moms find that sitting up nearly straight works well. Others prefer to lean back and lie almost flat.
  2. You can place your baby’s cheek near your breast, or you may want to use one hand to hold your breast near your baby. It’s up to you and what you think feels best.
  3. Your baby will naturally find your nipple, latch, and begin to suckle.

This hold is useful when: