One of the most remarkable things about babies is that, even before they’re forming sentences, they’re already sizing you up – they’re actually starting to mentally map out the structure of their worlds, separating people, animals and things into conceptual groups. Psychologists call this process, categorisation.
A New Study
Toddler categorisation is even more sophisticated and this is put into special light in a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where Cornell assistant professor Katherine Kinzler and her colleagues found that one-year-olds can see the links between people’s identities and the foods they like.
This new study confirms that children’s taste in food is not hard-wired. Researchers confirm that they can taste sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, sourness and umami, a savoury, hearty taste associated with glutamate and found in meats, milk products, and mushrooms.
However, children visualise food types as a way of identifying ‘their group’. And based on their need to want to belong, they will automatically want to be a part of ‘that group’. So, the preference will be there to eat the same type of food.
Everyone wants their children to eat nutritious meals. Hence, to encourage your child to take the healthy path, parents would need to eat healthily too. Make it a habit to have meals with your child so that he or she can see what you are eating and follow suit. As role models, parents need to assess their own eating habits and adjusting it to a healthier version – one that you’d be tempted to maintain so that your child can learn to make healthy food and beverage choices as well.
There doesn’t always have to be a battle over carrots and brocolli. According to Bee Wilson, author of First Bite, parents have lots of power in helping shape a child’s food preferences. Oh, and about the sweet tooth you’re so concerned about? We’ve all got one, Bee says. We are hard-wired to enjoy sweet things, especially children. But that does not mean that they are going to be restricted with getting their sugar fix from cookies and chocolates; sweet flavours can come in a variety of foods like yam, or caramelised onions. You should not be shocked, as children will eat what you eat, all the time.
Recipes To Try
Why not try some new recipes and broaden your child’s tastebuds at the same time?
It’s always a pleasure to see your children eat and finish their food with gusto, and with the right exposure, carrots and broccoli might be able to just that.