Your Baby is What You Eat? How Eating During Pregnancy Influences Your Little One

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Every week, I receive emails from “The Bump,” containing awesome developmental facts about Baby C and how big (s)he is. Last week was a mango; now, (s)he has graduated to the size of a banana. I always laugh at the size comparisons–are we having a baby here or making a tropical fruit salad?!

This week’s email was a celebratory one: I’m 20 weeks, aka halfway through. The other incredible thing I learned was that the baby’s taste buds actually work now, and that after birth, (s)he will respond best to flavors that have already been encountered in the amniotic fluid.

As soon as I read this, I had an “Aha” moment. My mom and I had always theorized on this subject. When she was pregnant with me, she had no morning sickness and ate a variety of foods, but her favorites were sweets. Apples and Twizzlers topped her list of cravings. With my brother, she had morning sickness during the first trimester, and couldn’t eat as much variety. Her food of choice, especially in the beginning, was Fritos, since they were easy to keep down. We’ve talked many times about how funny it is that her eating habits during each pregnancy translated into my brother’s and my food preferences; I’ve always been an adventurous eater, willing to try anything once, and I have a definite sweet-tooth. My brother was a totally picky eater growing up, and always gravitated toward bland, salty foods like mac and cheese. To this day, he prefers salty snacks to sweet ones. Weird, huh?!

Naturally, I had to find some articles on the topic. This article was my favorite, and really details how your baby’s palate is shaped in utero. It turns out that the flavors and scents of the foods mommies eat during pregnancy are detectable in the amniotic fluid that the baby ingests. The article even suggests that this makes evolutionary sense, since youngsters become accustomed to the flavors of their cultures even before birth!

Babies become accustomed to flavors consumed by their moms in utero! So, make sure to eat healthy, moms! ;)

Babies become accustomed to flavors consumed by their moms in utero! So, make sure to eat healthy, moms! 😉 Photo courtesy of Flickr

A few years ago, Julie Mennella, a scientist who studies taste in infants, performed a study in which one group of expectant mothers was given carrot juice daily, another group drank it only during breastfeeding, and the last group was told to avoid carrots completely. And–surprise, surprise–when the babies were later fed cereal made with carrot juice, the ones whose mommies were in the first and second groups ate more of the carrot-flavored cereal.

I don’t know about you, but I was super excited to read this. It’s incredible that our babies are already starting to love Mom’s home-cooking, and they’re not even born yet! Antonio and I are foodies, who love to try a variety of yumminess both at home and at restaurants, so Baby C is being exposed to a myriad of innovative and fun flavors from the start. For example, Baby C got in touch with his / her Lebanese roots when Antonio and I loaded up on manouche, tabouli, beef shawarma, and more at the Lebanese Festival in San Diego last weekend.

And it turns out that our babies aren’t only shaped by the foods we eat in utero–a recent study showed that our diets right before conception actually alter baby’s DNA, changing which genes are switched on and off during baby’s early development! This article is definitely an intriguing must-read.

So, moms-to-be out there, what kinds of foods are you feeding your little ones? Were you as blown away as I was by these recent findings? As always, I’d love to hear what you think!

 

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