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Persistence Key to Kids Eating Veggies

Study Shows the More You Offer Vegetables to Babies, the More Babies Will Eat Them
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 3, 2007 -- Show kids the veggies, and they will eat them. That's the message of a new study showing babies as young as 4 months old will eat green beans after a few tries.

Researchers found the more green beans the babies saw, the more likely they were to eat them and eventually enjoy them, even when given the choice of something sweet, like peaches.

The results showed both breastfed and formula-fed infants had a similar reaction to introducing pureed vegetables to their diet, which suggests that persistence pays off when it comes to getting your kids to eat their vegetables.

Researchers say eating fruits and vegetables lowers the risk of obesity as well as disease.  Health organizations recommend that children as well as adults eat five to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, but studies show few achieve these goals

How to Help Kids Eat Their Veggies

Many parents cite reluctance on their children's part as a key concern when introducing fruits and vegetables into their diet.

In this study, published in Pediatrics, researchers looked at whether breastfeeding affected 4-to-8-month old babies' acceptance of fruits and vegetables into their diet.

Forty-five infants, 44% of whom were breastfed, were divided into two groups. One was fed pureed green beans, and the other was fed pureed green beans and then pureed peaches each day for eight days.

The results showed that the children initially ate more of the peaches, especially if they had been breastfed and their mother ate fruit. But breastfed babies whose mothers ate green beans were no more likely to accept green beans than the others.

Researchers found repeated exposure to the green beans, with or without the peaches, made the infants more likely to eat them and eat more of them.

Based on these results, researcher Catherine A. Forestell, PhD, of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., and colleagues recommend that parents and caregivers offer infants repeated opportunities to taste a given fruit or vegetable so kids can learn to like these foods and eat their vegetables.

They also suggest that parents focus not only on children's facial expressions when eating new foods, but on their willingness to continue eating.

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