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Developing Baby's 5 Senses

Go Ahead, Have a Taste

Taste buds are fully formed at birth, and newborns naturally prefer sweet over salty flavors, says Saysana -- which is a good thing, as both breast milk and formula are sweet. Once babies are ready for solid food (usually at around 6 months), they still tend to prefer sweeter tastes such as fruit and sweet potatoes to stronger-tasting veggies. Keep in mind that because babies' taste buds are so sensitive, bitter flavors such as spinach may be overwhelming to them.

How to help: A tendency toward picky eating may develop even before baby has her first swallow of colostrum, says Nancy Tringali Piho, author of My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus: Raising Children Who Love to Eat Everything. "A lot of research suggests moms should try to eat a broad and varied healthful diet during pregnancy," she says. "And since babies do get flavors through breast milk, moms should continue to eat a wide variety of foods while breastfeeding." The fact that babies in other cultures readily eat what we might consider exotic fare -- even spicy Indian or Mexican dishes -- is evidence that babies do adapt to mom's diet, she adds. To get your baby to eat a new food, you may need to introduce it again and again. "It may take up to 15 exposures for him to like a new food," says Piho. "You need to get into the mindset that you're going to eat healthfully. It really does play out over time."

Fun fact: Babies are born with about 10,000 taste buds. Women gradually begin losing them when they reach somewhere between 40 and 50 years old (between 50 and 60 for men). Taste buds aren't replaced as we age, which is one reason older adults generally like foods that taste stronger.