Does a Child’s Taste Preferences Develop in the Womb?

Does a Child's Taste Preferences Develop in the Womb?

Food has the power to connect us all and it even connects a baby to his mother when he is in the womb. Now you must be thinking how can a baby taste and understand different flavours in the womb, are you? In the first two months of pregnancy, a baby’s taste buds develop and by the second trimester, a baby is able to understand the taste of different foods. Read this article to find out how a baby’s sense of taste develops in the womb.

Can Unborn Babies Taste What You Eat?

Though your baby’s mouth will not be developed completely in the womb yet, and he’d still be learning how to swallow, research has shown that it is possible for a foetus to taste what mom eats. Yes, your little one can taste even in the womb! This is something that helps us understand how some children are alright with eating certain foods, and others are not. Being exposed to specific tastes early in the womb means your baby will show a preference for those things even after being born.

How Does an Unborn Baby Taste Food?

When you eat, the flavours of the food you consume goes on to flavour the amniotic fluid that surrounds your baby while in the womb. Your baby tends to swallow much of this amniotic fluid on a daily basis, which means that he is exposed to the different flavours once his taste buds begin to form, which happens around eight to fifteen weeks.

Development Stages of Taste Buds in Unborn Babies

Here are the stages of development of the taste buds in a baby in the womb:

1. Week One to Week Eight

Your baby’s brain cells will begin to spread out to the different parts of the body, including where your baby’s mouth will soon develop.

2. Week Eight

The first taste buds are formed around the area where your baby’s tongue will eventually develop. The neurons that had spread out from your baby’s developing brain will now connect to these taste buds. Your baby will not be able to taste just yet, but the buds formed will be the receptors for the main taste categories such as sweet, sour, salty and bitter.

Foetus at eight weeks of pregnancy

3. Week Fourteen to Week Sixteen

Taste pores form on the baby’s tongue during this time. These tiny little pores, or pits, that have been created are what initiate the brain cells to register taste once the food molecules come into contact with it.

What All Can Your Foetus Taste?

What your baby tastes will not be as intense for him as it is for you. This is because what we perceive as taste is often actually smell. Many will already have noticed how much harder it is to taste food when you are down with a cold and are unable to smell. Even experiments that have people taste food after having their noses pegged have found that they were less able to identify what the flavour they tasted actually was. While your baby’s sense of smell is developed, the food he tastes in the womb is usually filtered down and its scent is not as strong as it is for you. So while your baby can pretty much taste anything that you eat, he will have a more intense experience with food that has a stronger smell, such as mint or garlic.

Do Babies Develop Food Preferences in the Womb?

As per research, the food that a pregnant woman eats has a substantial impact on the food that her child chooses to eat after he is born. The babies whose mothers drank a lot of carrot juice in their third trimesters showed a preference for food flavoured with carrot and did not make as many negative faces when given the food as the children whose mothers did not.

What Should a Pregnant Woman Eat to Encourage a Broad Palate in Foetus?

Many healthcare providers claim that if the moms-to-be followed a varied diet during pregnancy, they will be able to influence their child’s future eating habits. So if you want to avoid having a picky eater and would like your little one to eat a good, healthy, and balanced diet when they are out of the womb, you will need to follow a healthy diet during pregnancy. They call this prenatal flavour learning, and it is essential that mothers encourage this in their children as it reduces the risk of obesity and diabetes. Here are some of the foods that you should include in your diet to have a child who will make less of a fuss when it comes to eating different types of food:

  • Rather than satiating your pregnancy cravings with salty, fried junk food, opt for fresh fruits and vegetables instead. This will keep you healthy during your pregnancy, but it will also condition your baby to prefer these flavours over the flavours of junk food.
  • If you want your baby to learn to like eat all types of foods, then incorporate those in your diet. If you eat spicy food during pregnancy, your baby will learn to handle the spices of the different curries and other types of food when he starts eating after birth. Remember though, too much spice is not good for either of you at this stage, so do not go overboard with it.

Although your child’s taste preference will undoubtedly be influenced by the food you eat during pregnancy, it is not always a sure way of solving the problem of picky eaters. Many children still do not like the taste of broccoli, despite their mothers eating a lot of it when they were in the womb. You will have to do continued food training by conditioning your child through weaning.

Also Read: When Does a Foetus Start to Hear?