My boyfriend’s new baby nephew never wants to stop eating. His mother had to perform serious self-control when he seemed ready to start eating finger foods, as he was grabbing for everything at the dinner table. Though the pediatrician told her it was a little to early to let him pick at things on his own, he did recommend a feeding device that allowed the baby to suck on fruit through a soft mesh screen. That way, the baby would get to try new things without necessarily chewing on them. In particular, she mentioned that he loved the taste of banana the most. Since bananas are certainly sweet, it made me wonder whether or not babies have taste preferences. As it turns out, babies have even more taste buds than adults, so every taste is magnified. However, they might not crave sweets as much as we might think.

According to one recent study in the Research in Nursing and Health Journal, babies actually do not eat more food when it’s sweet, meaning they don’t necessarily prefer it. Since babies can’t vocalize their opinion on one taste over another, it’s safe to assume that the foods they consume more of are the ones they like best. Many baby food companies add sugar to their food to make it taste sweeter, but the results of this study prove that it is absolutely unnecessary, and it makes the food less healthy for no reason at all. Many children develop such a strong sweet tooth that adults find it difficult to understand, but in infancy those taste preferences are not yet developed. While babies might not prefer sugary foods, they might still react to foods that have a very strong taste and flavor because of how many taste buds they have. If a new food that you introduce has a vastly different taste than what your baby is used to, there’s a good chance he or she will hate it because it will be a very drastic change.

It makes sense that babies have so many taste buds. Many adults can recall the time when they hated a certain food that they love now, and many of those foods have a strong flavor. Hot sauce is a great example, because the spice is magnified on a child’s tongue. When it comes to sugar though, your baby won’t like it more than any other taste.

Source: Dr. Marie S Brown et al: Taste Preferences in Infants for Sweetened or Unsweetened Foods. Volume 3 Issue 1 pp. 11-17 May 2012

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