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Taste Preferences Develop Earlier Than You Might Expect

By , SparkPeople Blogger
My 4 and 2-year old are very curious about the baby growing in my belly.  My daughter often asks if the baby likes peanut butter or cheese, two foods that are staples in my diet these days.  I try to explain to her that the baby doesn't exactly taste what I'm tasting, but that's a hard concept for a 4-year old to grasp.  Now I'm learning that maybe the baby does taste more than I would have thought.  New research shows that what a woman eats during pregnancy could shape baby's taste preferences later in life.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby in-utero is flavored by the foods the mother has consumed within the past few hours.  By the time a woman is half-way through her pregnancy, baby is drinking several ounces of this fluid daily.  "To determine if flavors are passed from the mother to the baby via the amniotic fluid, researchers gave women garlic capsules or sugar capsules before taking a routine sample of their amniotic fluid — and then asked a panel of people to smell the samples.  Researchers said they could pick out the samples easily from the women who ate garlic. The sense of taste is actually 90-percent smell, so they knew just from the odor that the babies could taste it."
Memories of these flavors appear to form, which could result in taste or odor preferences for these foods later in life.  Since mothers tend to feed their children in the same ways that they eat, researchers say this is just nature's way of introducing children to the foods they will eventually be eating themselves.  In another study by the same researcher, "pregnant women were divided into three groups. One group was asked to drink carrot juice every day during their pregnancy, another during breastfeeding and a third to avoid carrots completely. Then when the children began to eat solid food, researchers fed them cereal made either with water, or carrot juice and videotaped their responses."  Children who had been exposed to carrots ate more of the carrot-flavored cereal and responded less negatively than those who had not been previously exposed.
Do you tend to eat many of the same foods your mother does?  Do you notice a pattern with your own children?  My mom and I eat a lot of the same things, although some of our preferences differ.  For example, she loves fish and seafood, and I've never developed a liking for those foods.  My children eat most of the same foods I do, but I think a lot of that has to do with what I prepare at mealtime, not necessarily what they would gravitate to if they made their own foods.
What do you think?

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thanks for sharing Report
Good article Report
I don't eat like my mother at all. She's a meat eater & I'm a lifelong vegetarian. She also likes a lot of things that I don't.

My kids are also opposite. I had a major sweet tooth when carrying my daughter & she's not much into sweets at all (although, neither is her dad). My son, on the other hand, has a major sweet tooth & I didn't tolerate sweet as well with him. I craved and ate a lot more spicy foods with my son & he's not as interested in spicy as my daughter. Some of it is probably environment, but I haven't seen any proof of pregnancy/kid food preferences in my family. Report
I'm far more adventurous in food than Mom ever was, but some things like her dislike of fish have filtered down. Report
I think any similarities to what our mothers ate to what we like is purely coincidental.

I am a twin. There was only 2 or 3 foods my sis could or would NOT eat and there was only a few things I WOULD eat. I am a very picky eater. I have so many allergies, sensitivities and dislikes that do not afflict her. While she was carrying us, our mother ate a wide variety of foods when she had the money to buy them.....

My mother was a strong drinker when carrying me - wine, primarily. I stopped alcohol 17 years ago, not without much difficulty. Sweets came later, then finally went vegetarian, now vegan. Little did I know until I saw pictures of her before my birth, and her later telling me how hard it is even now to not drink wine. I craved white bread, margarine and white bread as a child, eating whole loaves at once. This article was final confirmation that motherhood is such a loving responsibility. Report
I ate a large variety of foods while I was pregnant, including many ethnic foods. My daughter has never been a picky eater and loves everything (including more "grown-up" foods like mixed green salads and indian food). She just started kindergarten and was dissappointed to learn that sushi, dim sum, and shrimp (her favorite foods) were not offered as choices for lunch. Report
My mother eats much healthier than I do. She is also into desserts, and I could care less, about them. We do eat everything fresh, and my Mom does as well. Report
this is funny. Ever since I was pregnant with my eldest son, I can't stand salmon or tuna fish. I could barely get the tiniest bite down. yeah . . . . my son could eat a whole bowl or tuna or salmon salad all by himself, lol.

I have another friend who LOVED cheese cake but couldn't eat it from her pregnancy with her son or afterwards - yeah her son LOVES cheese.

very funny. Report
I ate a lot of pineapple (fresh, I couldn't stand the thought of canned!), and every other day I would go to publix and get the green apple/red grape fruit bowl. My son loves grapes, apples, and pineapple, although we don't give him a lot of pineapple because the citrus gives him a rash due to sensitive skin. He also loves unsweet tea with a little lemon, which I drank and still drink pretty often. I say he was addicted on the inside lol Report
Hmmm, I question the study's conclusions because I know my Mom ate asperagus and other things that I didn't like until just recently (I'm in my 60's). And my oldest should LOVE tomatoes, but she won't eat them except as spaghetti sauce. But maybe they aren't altogether off: my youngest came out of the womb loving cheese...... LOL Report
I think people are totally weird when it comes to food. All these comments - what we hate, what we love, veggies, no veggies, etc., etc. - are fascinating.

Best wishes on your pregnancy. Report
That would explain why all my kids love salami! Report
I do eat like my mother. My three sons however, tend to eat like their father,which is a diet sorely lacking in fruits and veggies. I have noticed though that the oldest after leaving home has started eating a much healthier diet. Report
similar story - i hate yogurt but decided to eat it 1x/day when i was pregnant, in order to get my calcium. we would laugh as the baby did what we called "the yogurt dance" for the next few hours. out she came, and she won't go near it, taste it, smell it, practically be in the same room with it! Report
This is an interesting blog. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I ate a few slices of pepperoni pizza. She literally started doing cartwheels in my stomach. I thought it was because she hated it. I guess I was wrong because pepperoni is her favorite pizza. I can't stand the stuff anymore. She has always had an aversion to salad. That might be because I ate salad almost every day while I was pregnant. Report
It seems very plausible, although it would not account for why my two children are so different. My daughter (17) has always been a good eater. She was willing to try almost anything. My son (14) on the other hand, did not develop a taste for green vegetables until relatively recently, and showed a marked preference for what we refer to jokingly as "the white food group," (which includes buttered pasta, potatoes, bread, milk, ice cream and a few other things). Report
I ate watrmelon every day the summer I was pregnant with my daughter. To this day she cannot stand the taste or smell of watermelon - and she's 26! I guess that's the opposite of getting used to it. LOL Report
I found that the baby in my belly influenced my eating choices. When I was pregnant with my son, I ate way more cheese than normal and smell of hamburger cooking made me sick. My son favorite food has always been cheese and he says smell of hamburger cooking makes him feel sick he is 25 now. With my daughter it was chocolate milkshakes before then I did not like chocolate and I have never been fond of ice cream. She lives on junk food now at 29 but she is thin always has been just like her father. Report
My daughter and I could live off Turkey and Avocado's. I love that we love the same foods. Report
This is an interesting subject. I had so many aversions to foods during pregnancy I could hardly eat anything I normally eat. I had major aversions to garlic, meat (except ground beef), and anything spicy. This is so uncharacteristic of what I normally love. Before pregnancy I would make wonderful spicy curries, and that abruptly stopped. I still haven't fully returned to the way I ate before aversions took over my diet. But possibly, this is why my daughter can't stand anything remotely spicy and doesn't like meat or onions. She will eat my garlic mashed potatoes, though. She also likes many foods I think are gross, such as banana-flavored foods and canataloupe. Report
I absolutely love, love, love watermelon and my Mother loves to tell the story about what happened when I was born that involved watermelon. About 4 hours before she went into labor with me, she ate a watermelon. She doesn't remember how big it was, but she says she ate the entire thing. They say when I was born I kept smacking my lips like I was tasting something. And I did that even after she fed me. After they brought me home, my Grandmother asked Mother what she had eaten right before I was born. When Mother told her watermelon, she got some watermelon juice and gave it to me. Yep, I stopped smacking! She said I was tasting the watermelon and wanted more! So I've been eating (drinking) watermelon since I was 4 days old. Well really before, but you know what I mean. :-) Report
What do I think? I am thinking I am glad I ate no fried foods, no sweets, no pop; only veggies, fruits whole grains, juices. did 25 laps in pool ever day up to eighth month and gagged down liver and red beets for the iron!! DD loves all of the above and rarely drinks pop, is a fish in water!! Report
I'm laughing too... about cantaloupes (muskmelons, to europeans).
My mom used to tell me a story about how there was a time while she was still breastfeeding me that she was enjoying getting extra-ripe cantaloupes that were too ripe to ship by truck. But they made my - uh - gastric processes - extremely unhappy, and she had to stop eating them to stop my screaming...
This year I discovered the "tuscan style" cantaloupes developed by Dulcinea - wonderful ripe ones - and have been slurping them up like a fiend and wondering where they've been all my life ... ( no problems...)
I think that it is true...and that the baby will also tell mommy what it wants! My mom has never liked spicy foods (Thai, Mexican, etc.) but when she was pregnant with me that's all she ever wanted! Those same foods turned her stomach when she was pregnant with my brother, and he tends to prefer much milder cuisine. Report
I try to ask give my children food that I don't like & have them choose. Most of the time they like it. Report
This blog makes me laugh; This weekend my partner fixed steamfresh green beans for our family...this was a first! The kids (7, 7, & 8) flat out refused to eat them...they are used to canned veggies, I grew up on canned veggies so that's what I have always fixed! The difference is significant, both better for you and taste...will take some getting used to for them! Report