Taste buds! We really only think about them when we eat something with extreme taste….sweet, sour, bitter, etc. We usually just think about how it tastes, if we like it or do not like it. Do you ever consider your baby’s taste buds? Do you remember the first time you really tasted something? Was it in the womb or was it when you where a toddler? As parents we overlook the sense of taste. We are so busy teaching numbers, letters, words, animals, colors, and songs. When do we teach them to taste? In my opinion, it is one of the most important senses as it helps us as adults lead a healthy life.
In today’s fast paced, high-tech society we are often rushed to meet demanding schedules. In order to do so, we resort to the highly processed foods found in fast food restaurants and supermarkets. Most of these foods come in a box and have fun colors added to them! We buy sugary cereals that change the color of our milk and blue yogurt. These foods often have additives we cannot pronounce, added sugars, loads of sodium, and little nutrients. They are usually engineered to meet the taste bud expectation of sugar and salt lacking savory, natural flare with herbs and spice.
First, it is important to understand we start feeding our child prior to conception which is carried through until adulthood. The cycle of commercialized foods starts with the mom. What is mom eating when she is pregnant and what do the parents decide to feed their children at birth…..breast milk or formula? Homemade baby food or commercial food? Convenience foods or whole foods?
As parents, we are faced with many decisions without realizing the long-term impact it might have on our child’s eating behavior and patterns as adults. Your baby’s palate begins to form in the womb and matures as infants. There is evidence of flavors passing through the amniotic fluid and breast milk to the baby. As a pregnant or lactating mother, your food choices and culture help create food preferences in your child! If you eat garlic, your child will taste garlic. If you eat curry, your child will taste curry. If you eat cumin, your child will taste cumin. Even more fascinating your child will remember the taste and food recognition will help with the introduction to solids easier!
So, what is my point? My point is to teach taste, we need to respect taste and teach ourselves how to taste again.
Tips to teach taste:
- Throw out the processed foods and replace them with whole natural foods.
- Cook with spice instead of salt and sugar.
- Make your own baby food and add mild spices (cinnamon or cumin to carrot for example)
- Let your kids play with ginger root, celery root, carrots, beets, turnips, etc. Playing with food is a way to explore foods without the pressure to eat them. You might be surprised when they will put their new toys in their mouth, so make sure they are clean!
- Explore and have fun! Try something new every day or week!
Teaching your child to taste real food from the beginning will carry through their lives. The taste of real food will help them grow into healthy adults seeking foods full of flavor, spice, savory, and nutrients! Let’s rethink Baby Einstein and start to focus on other senses!
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