How to shape your baby's food preferences
Did You Know…
Your fetus has taste buds present by 7-8 weeks! There’s even evidence that in the 3rd trimester your baby shows a preference for sweets by increasing fetal swallowing of amniotic fluid after injection of a sweet substance into the amniotic fluid. Conversely, when a bitter flavor was injected into the amniotic fluid a fetus decreased their swallowing. There’s an evolutionary advantage to this: sweets are often high in calories and support growth, while bitter foods can be poisonous. (side note: See! It’s in your biology to crave sugary, high calorie foods. Historically these food items were not readily available and vital to surviving bouts of famine or food scarcity. But, modern life has changed faster than our brains).
Another study looked at how a mother’s diet in pregnancy impacted her baby’s palate once they started consuming solids. The mothers who were given 300ml of carrot juice/day in pregnancy had infants more willing to accept carrots compared to the control group.
What does this all mean? Flavor preferences start in utero! What you eat will impact how your infant experiences food and which food flavors they are drawn to. Breastfeeding continues this trend since breast milk takes on the flavor of your diet. Most breastfed babies can tolerate maternal intake of garlic, onions, cruciferous vegetables without becoming gassy or fussy, especially if they were exposed to these foods in utero.
I found this information to be very fascinating and helpful when I was pregnant. It inspired me to eat healthy and gave me a fun experiment to play with during pregnancy: I ate as many vegetables as possible and am tracking which veggies my daughter likes and dislikes. Results: she likes them all! She eats brussel sprouts, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, kale, and onions like she’s munching on popcorn.
It’s no secret that when you’re pregnant, you’re pregnant AND starving. In fact, during pregnancy your metabolic rate has increased eight times that of your non pregnancy rate. In a non pregnant state it takes 24-36 hours to burn all your easy to access energy (aka glucose/sugar), in pregnancy it takes only 12 hours.
Your body is working like really, really hard! All this work translates to needing an extra 300 kcal/day starting in the second trimester. This is why consuming small, frequent meals helps regulate your blood sugar, which keeps your mood and energy stable.
When you’re starving it’s common to grab food items that are quick and easy to eat, which often means processed food. Next time you are starving remember what you eat will not only impact your but will shape your baby’s palate. Opting for healthy snacks like veggies and hummus or nuts and fresh fruit are not only good for you, but for your molding your baby’s food preferences. Preparing these snacks ahead of time can help you make the choices that align with your goals and values.
In the end, your body is doing a lot right now. While it’s possible you feel “fat and starving” just know your body is in a state it’s never been in before: rapidly using energy and growing to protect and nourish your baby. You and your body are doing something new and challenging. You got this 🖤🖤 And, if you need a reminder on where all this food is going, how your pregnancy weight is distributed, here is a breakdown for you:
The weight you “gain” in pregnancy is mostly
amniotic fluid (2lb)
uterus growth (2lb)
breast growth (2lb.)Holy cow having boobs that weigh 2 extra pounds sounds very heavy. Yes, so true. Thank you for saying that
body fluids (8lb, I’m serious!)
muscle and fat (7lb)
Eat healthy, eat what you enjoy, and know that you’re doing hard work , some of the hardest you will ever have to do in your life!