Doğu Akdeniz Üniversitesi Sağlık Bilimleri Fakültesi, Beslenme ve Diyetetik Bölümü, Gazimağusa, Kuzey Kıbrıs Türk Cumhuriyeti
Early experiences with food flavors lead up to children’s food preferences and develop long-lasting flavor preferences and healthy eating habits. The process of flavor learning begins during pregnancy by the foods eaten by mothers which pass to the amniotic fluid. Some flavors coming from the mother’s diet that pass to the amniotic fluid are detected by the fetus. This flavor learning continues after birth with breastfeeding, since the human milk is composed of flavors which reflect the foods consumed by the mother. Flavor composition in human milk which changes during the course of lactation due to the transmission of flavors into human milk enables the baby to get used to new flavors. Therefore, breastfed infants are likely to accept flavor changes and novel flavors more than formula fed infants. Flavor learning continues with starting complementary foods and eating the foods directly. Exposure to a specific flavor and repeated exposures in different times may facilitate the acceptance of this flavor. Furthermore, infants exposed to a variety of foods accept new flavors than infants following a monotonous diet. This underlines the importance of promoting the access to a variety of foods in early childhood. In conclusion, pregnant and lactating women should have variety of healthy foods in their diets with a variety of flavors and they should be encouraged to breastfeed their babies. In addition, starting complementary foods and early repeated exposure to a wide variety of healthy foods, the infants should get familiar with the flavor of healthy and various food. These factors may influence the development of healthy food preferences and healthy eating habits in later periods.