Flavour bridging

Things pregnant women should know about flavour bridging

Pregnancy is an exciting phase of a woman’s life for sure. However, it comes with its fair share of concerns about the baby too. For instance, are you worried that your child might grow up to become a fussy eater? After all, you must have heard of kids who are finicky about food from other parents by now. Worry not! Read this article to learn about process of flavour bridging, which will help add variety to your little one’s diet. There is nothing like getting started beforehand.

What is flavour bridging?

Flavour learning, commonly referred to as flavour bridging, is the process by which your child begins to learn about and acquire new flavours, allowing them to accept these.

How does it work and what do you need to do?

According to scientists, a baby is capable of recognizing flavours from an early stage, or when he or she is in the womb. The baby picks up flavours at two time-points - initially, in the amniotic fluid in the womb, and later, when you breastfeed your baby. In fact, your food habits and patterns during pregnancy have a direct influence on their food habits later on, and can even prevent them from becoming a fussy eater. It is not uncommon for mothers to become anxious when their child doesn’t eat dinner. Eating well during pregnancy is, in fact, the first-ever step you can take to teach your child to eat healthy green vegetables and avoid unhealthy and fat-rich food.

During pregnancy

The process of exposing and sensitizing your baby to various tastes and flavours should commence during early pregnancy. This is because your child's taste buds begin to develop in the second trimester. Doing so helps your child imbibe and accept the flavours of different foods early in life. Mothers should eat healthy and nutritious foods during pregnancy, so that the child gets familiar with these flavours.

During breastfeeding

The period of breastfeeding is crucial for the baby as it provides a “flavour bridge” between the flavours to which the infant was initially exposed in the womb, and the flavours to which the infant will be exposed after introducing complementary foods. Breastfeeding mothers should have healthy and nutritious food, as the baby will depend on the mother’s milk for nutrition, and will also develop a taste for certain flavours.

Introducing solid foods

Once your child gets introduced to solid foods, you must frequently feed him or her nutritious meals, as he or she will then develop a taste, with repetition. This will also help the mother, as the child will be less fussy about eating nutritious food later in life. Initially, many mothers make a few attempts to feed children nutritious foods as they understand the importance, but give up later.

However, repetitive exposure to non-familiar tastes can make your child habituated to those tastes. This way, he or she will develop a liking for different tastes over a period of time. However, mothers should avoid forcing the child to eat food they don't like. If parents control food habits through aggressive measures, it can be counterproductive.

Often, some vegetables have a slightly bitter and unpleasant taste, causing your child to develop an aversion to such foods, especially when introduced all of a sudden. Due to this, your child might become reluctant to consume such food items on a regular basis. It can become difficult to coax your child to consume these foods even at a later stage.

However, if you consume these foods regularly and in sufficient quantities, while you are breastfeeding your child, he or she will develop a taste for these slowly. This will happen since the flavours will get transmitted through breast milk. With time, the child will get accustomed to these tastes and will consume these foods regularly. This is the best way to integrate these foods into your child's regular diet, and it is necessary to do so because these foods provide several nutrients for growth and development.

Also, as a family, it is important to have adequate quantities of vegetables and fruits at mealtimes. This way, your child will get used to all kinds of healthy foods from an early age. This approach is called modelling, where the child learns by watching their parents and others eating nutritious foods. Children also learn from other children eating vegetables, which can increase their acceptance. Some popular foods for extremely picky eaters are provided below:

  • Badam ladoo
  • Ragi Idli
  • Fruit yoghurt
  • Palak paneer roll
  • A variety of sandwiches
  • Dahi tikka
  • Dates and almond roll

Repetitive exposure to whole-grain items, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables, can make your child like these foods. By 2 years of age, he or she will develop a healthy taste that will continue into adulthood as well.