Let's talk taste buds...
You see those little bumps on your tongue, they are called papillae and they are home to your tastebuds! As weird as it may sound, your taste buds actually have very sensitive microscopic hairs called microvilli. Those tiny hairs send signals to the brain about how something tastes. That fact literally blows our minds.
And when it comes to your baby's tastebuds - well, prepare to be shooked. Even though they aren't eating any solids at birth, they most definitely have taste buds! Did you know that Infant taste buds actually develop in the womb, which means that your baby tasted everything that you were eating whilst pregnant via the amniotic fluid they ingest.
When your baby comes into the world and starts breastfeeding (if they breastfeed, that is), they can still get hints of what their mother has been munching on through the breastmilk. This is why it's important for the mother to be eating tasty, healthy and nutrient-dense foods - and stronger flavours like garlic, too! - because in theory, it will help your little nursling's taste buds get used to those flavours. Don't worry, the occasional ice cream and binge-worthy chocolate cake is recommended too 😉.
At the weaning stage, your baby will finally get to put their own tastebuds to task! This is where palate training really begins. What's palate training, you ask? It's the process of exposing your child to certain tastes, which can help encourage confidence around new foods.
For example, you can train your little one's palate to enjoy healthy foods such as leafy greens, superfoods, spices and fruits. All you need to do is be patient and persistent with these foods over time - it can take up to 20 exposures for babies to accept new foods.
First tastes matter, which is why it's important to focus on fresh, whole foods that haven't been overly processed. Added salt and sugars are also no-gos - not only are they less-than-ideal for rapidly growing babies, but by focusing on healthier options, you can help your little one to develop healthier eating habits which will aid in their growth and developmental process and accompany them into adulthood.
And here's a fun fact: Babies have 2x as many tastebuds as adults! Unbelievable, right? As a baby grows their tastebuds are frequently replaced until some of the tastebuds simply stop replacing. Children normally have around 10,000 tastebuds, whilst adults are known to have around 5,000. So, the next time your child overreacts to a particular food, it could be because of their intense tingling tastebuds - not just the drama works!
Here are some pro tips for getting started with first tastes:
Eat with your baby! You are modelling the behaviour that you wish to see. Show them how it's done rather than telling them.
Have a good time and share your love for food! Let them see you enjoying food. Take a spoonful and express the heavenly pleasures of eating... For example, "Mmmm It's so good", "I like this" and "Yummy".
If they are being reluctant to try some, let them take the lead!... Offer them the spoon and let them explore. They'll make a mess but it's all a part of developing. Think about feeding responsively with solids, much as you would with the milk feeds.
Build up an adventurous palate! Gradually add in some mild seasoning and spices. Let them try a little bit of your curry with a heavier portion of rice. It's important for them to know that food isn't boring. Let food be something that you bond over.
At Mamamade we have woven all these elements together to create a balanced meal plan aimed at encouraging and nurturing your baby's palate development. Start exploring our range here and let us share the load and the love.