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Educating the taste and palate of our children early is a tool that can allow us to achieve beneficial results not only when introducing and establishing complementary feeding, but also with regard to the child's attitude towards new foods in the childhood, adolescence and even into adulthood. What if we told you that from pregnancy you can educate the taste and palate of the baby? Follow our recommendations!
To this day we know that, Following a healthy and balanced diet is key to good health and a long life. Cardiovascular diseases, some metabolic diseases such as diabetes, hypercholesterolemia and even certain types of cancer, can be prevented - up to a certain point, of course, since they also have environmental or genetic components outside of our control - by following a correct diet throughout life, and this begins, nothing more and nothing less than from the womb.
With the advancement of pregnancy, not only are the different vital organs and tissues of the baby forming and maturing, but the organs of the senses also develop. Touch or hearing are the most developed senses in the baby before birth, since through them it receives the greatest number of stimuli, and is capable of perceiving what surrounds it and, even, of identifying the maternal heartbeat or the voices outside. Taste, meanwhile, is another of the senses that develop in the womb, while sight and smell do so more after birth.
From week 14, at the end of the first trimester of pregnancy, the sense of taste in the fetus begins to develop, although it is not usually so early when the baby begins to be able to detect different flavors but later.
After week 16, the taste buds are in full development and by week 20, the fetus already ingests considerable quantities - proportional to its small stomach, of course, which is tiny in size - of amniotic fluid, thus making it the first baby food.
Despite the fact that the amniotic fluid has a slightly salty taste, the fetus will be able to identify, from this moment, many of the different flavors to which the mother exposes it through her diet, and of course, it will also be able to react to them.
The amount of amniotic fluid that the fetus swallows throughout the second and third trimesters of pregnancy is increasing, and therefore also the exposure to the various flavors, always depending on the variety of the maternal diet. However, we must not forget that the organoleptic qualities of a food depend not only on taste but also on smell, since the taste and aroma of food go hand in hand, and this, unfortunately, cannot be perceived by the fetus. During its intrauterine stay, the fetus is unable to detect the aroma of food, so the intensity of the flavors that it can discover is much lower than what the mother perceives when eating it, but very impressive, since the number of stimuli what your senses are exposed to is very limited.
Fortunately, during the first trimester, one in which there is a maximum of rejections and food intolerances, nausea and vomiting, the fetus has not yet developed the ability to detect flavors, and the maternal diet does not affect what the baby's tastes will be in the future.
However, according to research, the foods that the mother frequently consumes during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy have a clear influence on the food tastes of the future baby in the years to come, which is why some scientists dare to suggest that Maternal diet during pregnancy can shape the baby's eating habits To the point of determining the chances that you will develop diseases related to eating, such as diabetes, or that you will be overweight or obese throughout your life. Thus, a healthy diet not only ensures the good health of the mother during pregnancy, but also that of the baby both in the short term, in utero, and in the long term.
Additionally, the exclusive breastfeeding period, especially in what is known as the fourth trimester of pregnancy - the baby's first months outside the womb - is an even more intense way of exposing the baby to a wide range of flavors and aromas. .
Being outside the uterus, the baby is already capable of discovering aromas thanks to its smell, which represents an advance with respect to its intrauterine stay. Furthermore, the flavor particles, generally carried in fat, are transported in breast milk, allowing the baby to be in even more direct contact with the organoleptic properties of food.
And what flavors should we choose? In reality, a healthy and balanced diet already includes a wide variety of flavors and is the one that is best for the mother and the future baby for basic health reasons. In addition, it is convenient not to avoid those strong flavors that we usually consume in the Mediterranean diet.
Garlic, onion, paprika or aromatic herbs traditionally used in our most everyday dishes should not be missing, but we should not limit ourselves to them either. Spicy flavors, such as chilli or padrón peppers, and other intense flavors from other cultures, such as India, with a wide variety of curries, are some of those that, according to the researchers, most interest the baby during their stay in utero because they are easy to detect in amniotic fluid.
It is evident that each culture has a wide range of flavors, and not all, in adulthood, are open to the flavors of other cultures, but, by exposing the fetus to them, if we can get our child to accept a great variety of dishes, which means short-term and long-term cultural benefit.
Interestingly, some researchers say that spicy food tends to result in the appearance of hiccups in the fetus, while others as different as mint, vanilla, sardines, carrots or anise are capable of generating organoleptic memories in the fetus that facilitate the acceptance of foods with similar flavors and characteristics when introduced with the supplementary feeding.
Thus, if the mother has a tendency to consume vegetables with characteristic flavors without much seasoning -which in these cases masks their flavor and makes it undetectable to the fetus-, such as tomatoes, broccoli, wild asparagus or Brussels sprouts, the Baby has a good chance of accepting such foods when they are offered later, far more than babies whose mothers just ate basic, low-flavor foods like rice and pasta.
Although it is not a guarantee of success, since, inevitably, there will always be children who refuse to eat certain foods, expose the baby to healthy foods - be they vegetables, blue fish or more complex dishes - of intense flavors during pregnancy And breastfeeding has implications not only for your future eating habits, but also for your health.
As the saying goes, variety is taste, so, regardless of age, although it is true that it tends to intensify in childhood, the more exposure to something, the more possibilities of acceptance. Feeding, for once, is not different from what can be expected according to the traditional proverb, and more frequency of consumption during pregnancy and lactation, more contact between the fetus / baby and the different flavors, and therefore more possibilities that the child recognizes as familiar and accepts many and varied foods in his library of usual flavors.
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