Start Teaching your Child to Eat Healthy in the Womb

Creative Commons License photo credit: mueritz

Every good parent knows that it’s up to them to help their child develop healthy eating habits. You work with your child from a very young age to take it easy on sweets, and to be able to identify foods that just aren’t as good for them as others. In some cases, parents may even plan a diet that’s very strictly controlled for their children.

According to one new study, however, teaching your child to eat healthy may actually start earlier than previously thought. There is evidence to suggest that your baby’s palate is being formed while she’s still in the womb. The foods you take in while you’re pregnant may actually influence your child’s food preferences later in life.

The way it happens is this: when you eat during pregnancy, the nutrients from the food you consume are put to work in a variety of ways for your baby. One of those is in creating the amniotic fluid that surrounds your baby. The study suggests that the amniotic fluid may actually become “flavored” by what you eat. Your baby then becomes used to those flavors, and they set the stage for food preferences later in life.

When your baby is still growing and developing in your womb, he’s forming memories of his surroundings. Smells and tastes can even leave an impression. (Incidentally, the same is true with sound, as evidenced by the many different studies that have looked at the effect of listening to music while pregnant).

There are a number of foods that may be transmitted via amniotic fluid, and also later on via breast milk. These include vanilla, carrot, garlic, anise, and mint. Exposing your baby to some of these flavors may help to expand your baby’s palate later on, helping her to accept a variety of foods.

How much impact healthy food choices might have here isn’t certain, but the same idea applies.

So, what about you? Did you do anything special during pregnancy in terms of your dietary needs?

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