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The importance of palate development from the very first bites

gisèle gual — mar 19, 2019

Did you know? In the womb, Baby is already “eating” and discovering savours, as early as from the fourth month of pregnancy! The development of his palate will continue with feeding, when he is breastfed, but also at the diversification step.

From the introduction of the first “solid” food at the age of 4 months, you will see the natural preferences for certain tastes such as the sweet one. But even if he shows “easily” an interest for this flavour, he will also enjoy discovering more complex ones. In the end, he will even be more excited about the latter. Trust us!

Think about the eating habits of these countries where they use plenty of herbs and spices: babies eat purées flavoured with curry, garlic, coriander or other aromatic herbs since the very first days of the diversification and they love it!

It is very difficult to change eating preferences after the age of 2 (when the infamous food neophobia starts), but before that your baby will usually accept everything you will give him. And even more so if what he gets is actually tasty! A child, before he turns two, is by nature very curious, take adventage of this phase and make him try lots of recipes!

When you think about it, a healthy diet is not made of “simple” flavours such as sweet or salty, but of a multitude of savours which are mixed, creating multiple combinations of the 5 basic tastes (sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami). All kids with no exception are able to enjoy spicy dishes, even bitter or sour ones, if they learned to eat them from an early age.

Adding condiments, herbs and spices helps you to vary the taste of a same dish in different ways: carrots complimented with curry, carrots with cumin, carrot soup with coriander, carrot and parsnip purée with nutmeg, etc. 

Giving tasty food to your child and varying the seasonings only has benefits:

  • he gets used to mixes of flavours (and smells!),
  • he is not afraid to taste new foods (since he is already used to them),
  • he learns that food can be eaten in different ways and
  • he will become an adult who enjoys all sorts of recipes & cuisines.

And don’t forget that a child who ate deliciously flavoured food during his entire childhood will more easily opt & choose for a healthy diet, avoiding food that is only sweet or salty (that usually means junk food). Because taste is learned, since his first bites.

Article by Gisèle Gual, pediatric dietitian.