Health

The secret to getting your kids to eat vegetables

The secret to getting your kids to eat vegetables

A child that prefers broccoli to ice cream might seem like a biological impossibility but scientists think it could be as simple as getting pregnant women to eat more vegetables themselves.

A new study published in Pediatrics found that babies can develop a taste for healthy foods in the womb.

Researchers from Philadelphia’s Monell Chemical Senses Center found that flavours were passed from mother to baby in amniotic fluid, and later in breast milk.

In pictures: Ten things not to say to kids

“Things like vanilla, carrot, garlic, anise, mint — these are some of the flavours that have been shown to be transmitted to amniotic fluid or mother’s milk,” study leader Julie Mennella told NPR News.

Scientists gave pregnant women capsules filled with garlic or sugar before taking samples of their amniotic fluid. The samples were then given to a panel of testers, who were asked to smell the fluid. In all cases the testers could easily identify the women who had eaten garlic.

This means that the unborn babies would have been able to taste the garlic too.

In the second phase of the research scientists looked at the foetus’ ability to remember tastes it had been exposed to in the womb.

One group of pregnant women were asked to drink carrot juice every day, another group to drink it while breastfeeding and a third asked to avoid carrots entirely.

When their babies were old enough to start eating solid food, they were given cereal mixed with water or carrot juice.

The babies who had been exposed to carrot juice in the womb and via breast milk ate more of the carrot cereal than the plain cereal, proving they had developed a taste for what their mother’s had consumed.

Related: Tips for getting your family to eat more vegetables

Researchers think the findings could result in healthier children who are born with a taste for fruit and vegetables.

Your say: Are you surprised that what you eat while pregnant could affect your children so much?

Video: Tackling childhood obesity

Related stories


Unwind and relax with your favourite magazine!

Huge savings plus FREE home delivery