Monday, April 27, 2009

Repercussions of Baby Food?

My youngest daughter, Tickle, is 20 months old. She is gifted with a unique sense of compassion and mercy. If anyone in the house displays sadness, she is the first to give out hugs. If anyone leaves something when they get up, such as shoes or a pencil, she will quickly return the item to us. It has been a joy to see her personality blossom. However, she is our pickiest eater. Hmmm.... Here's what I have been thinking...

Each of the older three were fed real foods from the time they began solids. I cooked and pureed everything they ate. I started with fresh mashed avocado and banana. Then, I began to give them cooked vegetables like carrots and peas. Bit by bit I added more fruits and vegetables until they were eating just about every vegetable available. I gave them lots of plain homemade yogurt. Then I added in some soaked oatmeal and some brown rice. If a child didn't like a flavor the first time around, I kept giving it to them in small quantities. Soon they ate everything I served them. I waited until they were each a year old to give them ate any wheat, eggs or nuts.

Baby Being Fed Baby Food by Alexandra Grablewski
When Tickle, our fourth, was ready for solid foods, I prepared some for her myself, but often fed her store bought organic baby foods. She had a very slow digestive system and these seemed to move through her better. She was nearly a year old before her digestive system "caught up" to eating the same diet as her older siblings had. Until that time, she ate only six or seven vegetables, a few fruits and a few mixed foods. There isn't a lot of variety in organic baby foods! And, at that point, it was slow going in incrementally introducing new foods, wheat, eggs and nuts into her diet.

As we started introducing foods to her, she was much slower to accept them. Often, it was just more convenient to give her the baby food so that I could feed her more quickly. Now that she eats only what we eat, there are several things at which she turns her nose up. Could it be because she didn't get used to these foods until too late?

I have read that children's taste buds are very weak when they are babies. They will tolerate a wider variety of flavors because foods taste more mild. If introduced to them early, the flavors will be tolerable to them as their taste buds develop. On the flipside, if a baby is "older" the first time he tastes an avocado, the drastic flavor might not be tolerated.

Could this be what happened with Tickle? I could be speculating. However, I wonder if her taste preferences are a result of her limited diet as a baby. She only ate mild tasting baby foods until she was old enough to really balk at the more developed flavors. Just a thought...

Photo Credit: not a photo of Tickle


Noel said...

That is a really interesting hypothesis! Have you tasted baby food?? That stuff is awful! The baby food makers must know this already.

Andrea Manor said...

Interesting. I made all of our first child's baby food and have made most of our 9 month olds baby food. He's had more jarred food b/c we're on the go much more. Just a few weeks ago I was feeling so overwhelmed I had decided not to make his food anymore b/c it's so much easier to pop the top off a jar. Hmmm, maybe I'll rethink it.

Christian Frugal Mama said...

That's interesting... I actually had read that babies are MORE sensitive to tastes than we are and not be careful not to over "season" any of their food as they get used to all the new flavors. Who knows?