By Mike Pomranz
Updated April 06, 2015
Credit: © iStockphoto

The type of food you eat as a baby may determine how picky of an eater you are as you grow up, according to recent research.

Though baby foods that mix different flavors are common on store shelves, experts are now stressing the importance of teaching babies to appreciate individual flavors. “It’s really important that children discover the taste of each vegetable individually,” Sophie Nicklaus, a researcher with the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, said at a conference last week, according to Food Navigator USA. “Children who have only eaten mixed vegetable purees will not differentiate between the flavors…meaning they won’t really like the taste of individual vegetables.”

This recommendation is supported by a study published last year in the journal Appetite. In that paper, lead researcher Marion Hetherington of the University of Leeds found that babies who were introduced to vegetable purees one vegetable at a time were more likely to appreciate other vegetable down the road. “The strategy (of mixing vegetables or masking them with other flavours) probably does not allow for familiarization with the visual, olfactory, gustatory or textual properties of vegetables,” the study concluded. “In other words, this approach leads to vegetable intake but not to learning to like, eat and recognize vegetables.”

These findings may seem counterintuitive, but it turns out that more complicated baby foods probably don’t lead to a more developed palate. Just like when you learn math or English, the best first step is to master the basics.