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By the time a baby is born, its taste buds are developed and a baby has an innate sense of what foods are good, and which are bad. Breast and formula milks are sweet, and babies initially favour sweet tastes over sour or bitter flavours. Although they may taste similar, the difference between breast and formula milk is the difference between processed and natural food. The first solid foods that many children experience are also processed baby foods. The packaging will tell you that the contents are healthy and nutritional, but often the truth is that they are laden with more sugar than we would use in our own cooking, and sometimes ingredients that we wouldn't be happy to add ourselves!
There is inceasing evidence that eating high proportions of processed foods as babies leads to increased consumption of processed foods throughout life, as our tastes adapt to the foods that we eat early on. Processed foods are typically high in salt and sugar and use cheap fats with higher saturated fat content. This almost certainly plays a part in the rising instance of obesity in children and adults.
A study published in America in 2004 suggested that by the age of 2 years, one third of toddlers do not eat fruit and vegetable in any healthy form, instead being fed a diet consisting only of processed foods. Other research suggests that babies exposed to a broad range of complex flavours, provided by natural foods, grow up to eat a broad and healthy diet, which in turn contributes to a better lifestyle.
If these ideas are correct, then it reinsforces just how important it is to be feeding our little ones a broad range of foods and flavours from an early age. Don't become dependent on baby jars from the supermarket, instead, look to buying a wide selection of fruit and vegetables from which to make your own purees, and wholesome meals.
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