Mother Nature Network


Baby’s Palate And Food Memories Shaped Before Birth


My kids are going to come out of the womb loving everything.

How fun will it be to “introduce” them to foods in utero? And now today, lil’ peanut, we’re learning about the flavors of Western China….

“Things like vanilla, carrot, garlic, anise, mint — these are some of the flavors that have been shown to be transmitted to amniotic fluid or mother’s milk,” says Julie Mennella, who studies taste in infants at the Monell Chemical Senses Center. In fact, Mennella says there isn’t a single flavor they have found that doesn’t show up in utero

“Each individual baby is having their own unique experience, it’s changing from hour to hour, from day to day, from month to month,” says Mennella. “As a stimulus it’s providing so much information to that baby about who they are as a family and what are the foods their family enjoys and appreciates.”

The flavor of cigarettes can be passed through amniotic fluid, too. So perhaps that’s one reason why children of people who smoke might be more likely to pick up the habit….

I really like this idea, most simply for the fact that many people are so picky about what they eat, pickiness that was bred at the family dinner table.  Little Susie doesn’t like asparagus? Well then she doesn’t have to eat it.  Children are inherently picky, they will often say “no” to anything new put in front of them if they are not encouraged to try it. My parents exposed me to a variety of cuisines at a young age. One of my first food memories is eating escargot, and loving it.  Sure, I didn’t like peas, but if they were served at dinner, I had to eat at least a small helping.  This exposure and positive attitude regarding food variety has certainly had a profound effect on how I eat today. I will try anything (as long as it’s gluten-free!) and if I’m not a huge fan, I will often give it another try at a different time & place just to give whatever food it may be the benefit of the doubt (I’m looking at you peas). 

Baby’s Palate And Food Memories Shaped Before Birth