Objective. To examine the effects of dietary experience and milk feeding regimen on acceptance of their first vegetable by 4-to 6-month-old infants.
Design. Longitudinal study, of 26-days duration, observing infants aged 4 to 6 months at the start of the study. Random assignment to treatments, within-subject control.
Setting. General community in a medium-sized mid-western town.
Subjects. Thirty-six infants and their mothers. Subjects were solicited through birth records and advertisements in local newspapers.
Interventions. Infants were randomly assigned to be fed one vegetable on 10 occasions, either salted or unsalted peas or green beans, for a 10-day period.
Outcome measures. Infant intake of the vegetable consumed during the 10-day exposure period; intake of salted and unsalted versions: (1) before the 10-day exposure period, (2) immediately after the exposure period; and (3) after a 1-week period of delay. Intake of a control food was also measured before and after repeated consumption of the vegetable. Adult ratings of the infants' videotaped responses during test feedings were also obtained before and after the exposure period.
Results. After 10 opportunities to consume the vegetable, all infants significantly increased their intake (P < .001). Although they did not differ initially, infants fed breast milk showed greater increases in intake of the vegetable after exposure and had an overall greater level of intake than formula-fed infants. Adult ratings of the infants' nonverbal responses correlated positively with infant intake.
Conclusions. Infants increase their acceptance (reflected both in changes in intake and in behavioral response) of a novel food after repeated dietary exposure to that food. Relative to formula-feeding, breast-feeding may facilitate the acceptance of solid foods.