Should vegetables be introduced as soon as diversification takes place? The question is not always easy to decide. But according to researchers from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, the fact of giving pureed vegetables from the start, in small quantities with milk, increases their attraction for the baby, who would consume more of them.
Breastfeeding is associated with better infant acceptance of vegetables. This is probably explained by the variety of flavors and aromas of the mother’s diet, conveyed via breast milk. Some mothers also add vegetables to their child’s diet very early on, starting with diversification and with milk.
Pureed vegetables mixed with breast milk
British researchers have sought to find out whether this practice had a real influence on infants’ appetite for vegetables. To this end, 36 young mothers were enrolled in a controlled and randomized study. For 12 days, the group had to mix milk (breast or in the form of infant formula) with small amounts of pureed vegetables (carrots, green beans, spinach, broccoli). For the next 12 days, the mothers had to mix the vegetable purees with rice, but this time twice a day. The “control” mothers were not to add vegetables to the milk and rice during the 24 days of the experiment. Subsequently, the two groups had to simultaneously give vegetable purees to their child for 11 days.
50% more vegetable consumption afterwards
Verdict: Early exposure to vegetables is associated with better acceptance and about a 50% increase in vegetable consumption by babies, after the experiment. The study also shows preferences for carrots in both groups. For the authors of the study, a gradual exposure to vegetables therefore seems an interesting approach to increase consumption, and this, from an early age!
Hetherington MM: A step-by-step introduction to vegetables at the beginning of complementary feeding. The effects of early and repeated exposure. Appetite, Volume 84. Pages 280–290.