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Development milestones associated to food intake


Infants are able to distinguish between sweet and bitter tastes and have innate, evolutionary driven preferences for sweet and salty tastes. In situations in which energy and mineral-dense foods were scarce, these preferences would have been advantageous. But in current obesogenic environments of affluent populations they are likely to be a disadvantage.

They also have an innate dislike of bitter taste, which is associated to the ability to discriminate and avoid potentially toxic foods.

There is, however, evidence that these predispositions can be modified by early experience. During pregnancy the fetus is exposed to different flavors through the amniotic fluid. This early experience together with the one through the breastmilk seem to shape the later food preferences.

It is also thought that avoiding exposure to sweet and salty during the first 12 months and introducing instead a variety of tastes helps the infant to adopt healthier food choices as toddler.


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