Can formula-fed children experience Early Flavor Learning?
Yes! While it’s unfortunate that today’s baby formula exists only with singular flavor profiles, the FlavorBaby app can help you provide flavor learning to your infant. By adding a tiny bit of vegetable puree to formula, once a day, you can gradually introduce vegetable flavors (similar to flavor experiences in breast milk) in the weeks and months prior to starting purees during weaning. In giving this a try, add a very small amount (i.e. 1/2 tsp per 4 oz. of formula) of very smooth vegetable puree to one bottle of baby’s formula per day. You can utilize the Flavorbaby app to provide a variety of flavors in rotation, as well as puree recipes.
Why does the app focus on only one flavor per day?
Research has shown that two things are important for Early Flavor Learning (EFL) to occur: variety and repetition. Focusing on one flavor per day and repeating that flavor a few days later is key to ensuring that your child will learn to like and prefer that flavor later in life.
What if I miss a day, or don’t eat (or feed baby) the proper amount?
While it’s important to try and follow the routine for each day in the app, it’s fine if you get off track. Skipping a day or two won’t matter in the grand scheme of things. What’s most important is that you are trying. Missing a day here and there, while learning about vegetable variety and flavors is all part of the process. Just keep trying and have fun with it!
The flavors kids learn to love before the age of two are the flavors they will prefer for the rest of their lives.
Is it OK to eat (or feed baby) other foods during the day and/or to mix flavors?
During pregnancy and breastfeeding: it is perfectly fine to eat as usual, which means lots of flavors and multiple vegetables and fruits. Just be sure to eat at least one serving of a vegetable from the day’s flavor category per day.
During the Veggie priming period: feed baby only his/her regular milk and one taste of vegetable, each day, from the Flavor of the Day in the app. Try not to introduce any other flavors or foods during this time.
During Early Eater and Toddler periods: while it is important to feed baby once per day with the corresponding Flavor of the Day in the app, it’s fine to feed him/her whatever else you feel is appropriate. Multiple flavors from recipes and dishes that include vegetables, fruits and other foods throughout the day are expected and normal for your growing baby.
What is Early Flavor Learning / Flavor Intelligence?
Early flavor learning is the natural process of forming our “likes” and “dislikes” for foods. Multiple scientific studies have revealed a sensitive period of 700 days (from 4 months in utero to 18 months of age) during which Early Flavor Learning occurs. Provided this time is used wisely, research suggests that parents can teach their children to prefer the flavors of a healthy diet (i.e. vegetables) and that this Flavor Intelligence lasts throughout childhood and into adult life.
Can I eat (or feed baby) the same vegetable multiple days in a row?
Yes. Just make sure to try and stick to rotating through the flavor categories, focusing on one flavor per day. Beyond that you can eat (or feed baby) anything else you feel is appropriate. The only exception is during the Veggie Primer period, where you will only provide one vegetable taste per day (different each day) and baby’s regular milk.
What about the 3-4 day wait rule?
Eight foods are responsible for 90 percent of food allergies: milk, wheat, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, and fish. With the rare exception of celery, vegetables are not a concern when it comes to allergic reactions and there is no need to follow the 3-4 day wait rule when introducing vegetables. Unless you are instructed otherwise by a doctor, moms and dads are advised to introduce vegetable purees in rotation as baby’s first solid foods.
What about the different textures and colors of foods, aren’t those aspects important?
Yes! All the sensory aspects of foods, textures, colors, and flavors (which are a combination of taste and smell) are important in developing your child’s flavor intelligence and life-long appreciation for the flavors of a healthy diet. Once the 36-day Veggie Priming period is complete, you should move forward with providing the progressive textures of stage 2 and stage 3 baby foods. You can also move forward soft and smashed foods, finger foods and/or follow the principles of baby led weaning – just make sure to complete the 36-day Veggie Priming period (outlined in this app) first.
When is the optimal time for baby to experience flavors during breast feeding?
While flavor intensity can vary with time, studies have shown that the flavors of the mother’s diet peaked in breast milk 1.5 hours to 3 hours after ingestion, suggesting that this as an optimal window for Early Flavor Learning.
Why aren’t fruits included in this app?
Research shows that babies don’t need help learning to like the flavors of fruits because they are naturally sweet. Pregnant and nursing moms are free to eat as many fruits as the like. During weaning, babies are free to eat fruits after the 36-day Veggie Primer period is complete.
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