Children’s vegetable consumption falls below current recommendations, highlighting the need to identify strategies that can successfully promote better acceptance of vegetables.
Recently, we described two promising approaches to increase acceptance of vegetables:
(a) offering infants a variety of vegetables (purée changed every day for 10 days vs. 3-day and no change) at the beginning of weaning increases acceptance of new foods, including vegetables, and (b) offering 7-month-old infants an initially disliked vegetable at 8 subsequent meals markedly increases acceptance for that vegetable.
The first stage of the study showed that these different effects persisted for several weeks.
In a follow-up study, at 6 years, observations in an experimental setting showed that children who had been breast-fed and who had experienced high vegetable variety at the start of weaning ate more of new vegetables and liked them more. They were also more willing to taste vegetables than formula-fed children or the no or low variety groups. The initially disliked vegetable was still liked by 57% of children.
This follow-up study suggests that experience with sensory variety in the context of breastfeeding or at the onset of complementary feeding can influence sensory preferences for vegetables into childhood.