Tag Archives: taste


baby dressed in a monkey costume for Halloween


As you enjoy the holiday, please keep in mind the importance of keeping sugar away from babies.  A recent article in the Wall Street Journal examined how much sugar Americans are consuming.  “Sugar Math for Halloween”  states that on a daily basis we consume more than twice the amount of added sugar than is recommended.   In the article, author Bonnie Rochman explains why children love candy and develop a strong craving for it.  She writes that taste buds in children are more clustered than in adults.  Although they have the same number of taste buds, the size of the tongue is much smaller and therefore pushes them closer together.  This makes flavors more intense.  This is also why children do not like bitter foods, she adds.  Develop habits with baby that develop a sugar-free Halloween tradition.


Some parents are learning tricks to limit treats as education increases parents’ knowledge of the harmful effects of sugar.  Consumption of sugar contributes to baby cavities, obesity, and other harmful health conditions.  As baby grows up, try some clever ideas to reduce the sugar consumption while enjoying the spirit of the holiday.  One parent of a toddler and teenager shares her tip for an almost sugar-free Halloween with WSJ.  She invokes what she calls the Great Pumpkin.  Her children are allowed to choose a handful of candy to eat while leaving the rest next to their pumpkins before going to sleep on Halloween night.  The next morning they discover the Great Pumpkin took their candy and placed a gift in their pumpkin instead.

Here are a few of our posts on the topic of baby cavities:









Cereal is often the first food introduced to baby.  What a change this is for her!  Until now she has been drinking only liquids such as milk or formula.  The introduction of a solid food into baby’s diet is a revolution in her dining experience.  Not only does the introduction of a solid food present a new texture and flavor, but it also presents a mechanical challenge.  She now must learn how to use her tongue to move the cereal around in her mouth.  She must coordinate the action of the tongue with the action on swallowing.  She may even need to chew a bit which uses the action of her jaw…opening and closing.  These actions work together to prepare and swallow the more solid food inside her mouth.


With all the packaged cereals available for baby today, please choose wisely.  Select whole-grain baby cereals free of additives.  This means free of salt, free of sugar, and free of chemical preservatives.  Many vitamins are removed from the cereals when the grain is stripped, thus “whole-grain” is the more nutritious choice.


Introduce cereal to baby by giving her just one single teaspoonful so she can experience a new taste and a different texture.  Use a small spoon when feeding her.  Place the spoonful of cereal at the middle of her tongue.  If you place it too close to the front of her mouth, near her lips, she may accidentally push the food out of her mouth as her tongue moves around.  When she seems to successfully manage the teaspoonful of cereal over a number of days you can increase the amount to two or three tablespoonsful.  Try and feed the solid food before giving her milk or formula because otherwise she may fill up with the liquid and refuse the nutritious solid food.


Remember that eating is one of the Stellar Caterpillar Top 10 Motor Milestones.  Just like learning to roll or crawl, there are micro-skills that make up this milestone.  For example, baby has to learn to move the food with her tongue before swallowing it.  It takes time for her to learn and she learns well when introduced to a new skill in little steps, or should we say, in “small bites.”



When it is time to add vegetable purees into baby’s diet, the health conscious mother looks for an alternative to the store-bought baby food jars filled with added sugar and salt.  One also does not know if the vegetables in the jars were exposed to harmful chemicals such as pesticide residue.  The baby food sold in jars has salt added to preserve the food and often sugar is added to enhance the flavor.  The healthiest choice is for mother to make baby-food at home with organic vegetables.  The lower the intake of salt, sugar, and chemicals, the healthier baby will be.  Recently we discussed the importance of monitoring the salt content in baby’s diet as published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


Making your own baby food is easy to do if you have a blender or food mill and access to fresh, organic vegetables.  Even if you do not have a blender or food mill, you can still make your own baby food at home.  Begin by purchasing only organic vegetables.  You can peel, wash, chill, grind/puree, and immediately steam the vegatables.  Or, you can peel, wash, cook, and then grind/puree.  Most blenders have a setting labeled “puree.”  The food mill allows you to grind the food into the tiny particles which make a puree.  Either tool works fine.  Or, one can grate or shred the vegetables if there is no food mill or blender available.  Today there are books/websites available on making your own baby food.  Have fun with it!


Is baby not eating her vegetables?  The method I recommend to mothers for introducing a new food to babies is one I learned from the great nutritionist Dr Carlton Fredericks.  In his chapter “The Well-Fed Baby,” from his book Look Younger, Feel Healthier, Dr. Fredericks describes this special technique.  “The most successful method is to present the new food combined with a familiar one,” he explains.  “Cook it in milk at a simmering temperature of approximately 200 degrees (Farenheit) . The milk should be subsequently used for cream sauces and soups.”  Over time, add in less of the familiar food.  Remember to always check with your doctor to learn what foods should not be given to baby and at what temperatures food should be heated.


  • omits sugar content
  • free of added salt
  • eliminates pesticide/chemical residue when organic vegetables are used
  • virtually no nutritional values are sacrificed




Why are teething biscuits such a popular snack for babies?  They are cleverly designed to develop the skill of chewing.  These small snacks resemble a cookie in shape and size, but usually are free of much sugar and spice.  Ideally, they are made of simple grain ingredients and quite firm in texture.  The firmness makes it difficult for baby to bite off a large piece, on which she could choke.  Her jaw opens and closes as she gnaws away at the biscuit until her saliva softens it enough so a tiny piece breaks off, which she swallows easily.  This action of opening and closing her jaw develops the skill of chewing.  Once the tiny piece of biscuit is in inside her mouth, she will need to movie it around with her tongue to prepare it for the action of swallowing.  This is the skill of chewing food:  using the muscles of the jaw and mouth in a coordinated manner.


It is a new experience for baby to touch a piece of food, bring it to her own mouth, and experience the taste of it.  Prior to introducing these finger foods she has been spoon and bottle fed.  Baby is now seeing the food, touching the texture with her hands, smelling with her nose, hearing the crunch of her bite, and tasting the flavor.  This is both a new coordination and sensual experience for her.


As we have learned, the flavor preferences later in life which can influence health and well-being are being traced back to foods given in infancy.  Thus, it is important to try and develop healthy eating habits in the first year of life.  Learn to read the labels and choose organic teething biscuits when possible.  Look for ones made without added sugar and salt.  For babies with wheat allergies one can find arrowroot teething biscuits.  Some ambitious mothers even make their own from scratch with teething biscuit recipes found on the internet.  It is a good idea to check with your pediatrician before using an internet recipee.  Remember, our options today are many. Choose wisely.




“Taste for Salt May Be Shaped During Infancy,” by Amanda Gardner,  HEALTH magazine, and published on CNN.com, 12/21/11.


By now most of us have learned to watch our salt intake. This means choosing the “Low Sodium” options at the grocery store, the “Heart Healthy” options on the restaurant menu, and leaving the salt shaker off of the dinner table.  Those of us obsessed with nutrition, health, and wellness have also learned to read the list of ingredients on everything we buy to identify what is known as “hidden salt,”  the salt added to the bread, crackers, etc. by the manufacturer.  We choose lower salt options because we have learned the health consequences of excess sodium.


Recent research reveals the importance of monitoring the salt content of baby’s diet as well.  Recently, researchers from the Monell Center for Advancing Discovery in Taste and Smell reported the results of a study regarding babies and salt.  The researchers found that babies fed starchy table foods such as crackers, bread, and cereal, had a much higher preference for salty foods than infants of the same age who were not fed these same foods.  The study also reveals that when children reach preschool age, those fed starchy table foods during infancy prefer salty snacks such as potato chips and french fries.  The conclusion is that the preference for salty foods may be formed during infancy.


Common table foods such as cereal, bread and crackers are often popular food to give infants when they are learning to eat.  They are easy for baby to pick up with her thumb and first finger, developing her pincer grasp, and place into her mouth to chew.  Chewing these highly processed foods is quite easy for baby, so they are a popular snack option.  However, most of them contain added salt.  It is important to choose the healthy options.  And of course, ask your pediatrician if you have any questions regarding food choices for your baby.


The researchers found that babies who stayed on a diet of baby food for the first six months, or who received snacks of fruit only in addition to the baby food, were indifferent to the flavor of salt as they grew older.  Many parents today  make homemade baby food rather than buying it in the stores so they can eliminate added salt and sugar.  Many websites and books are available for guidance on this topic.  Another tip for parents is to read the ingredients listed on the packaging of bread, crackers, and cereals to locate some with no added salt.  Today, one can find salt-free brands in each for these food products.  Always carry these healthy options with you, as babies get hungry frequently.



LA TIMES Live Web Chat, 6/6/11, with Gary Taubes on “Weight Gain”

Yesterday I joined a live web chat with Gary Taubes, author of “Why We Get Fat:  And What to Do About It,” “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” and numerous diet and exercise articles.  Taube’s writings focus on scientific controversies, particularly in the field of nutrition in recent times.  The theory that weight gain is the result of “calories in” measuring more than “calories out” has been challenged by Taubes who suggests instead that fat, or weight gain, is the result of the sugar and carbohydrate consumption driving the insulin levels up.  Taubes’ background in science includes studies in physics at Harvard and aerospace engineering at Stanford, writing for the journal of Science, and prestigious awards for journalism and science.   This interactive web chat was sponsored by the Los Angeles Times and two questions appeared regarding infants and the obesity epidemic.  I would like to share those questions, along with Taubes’ answers, here:

Question from Dr. Alan Greene, clinical professor of pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine:  “The top source of solid food calories for most babies in the US throughout their first year is refined white flour, which we call rice cereal and many doctors still recommend.  I can’t think of a good reason to recommend this, can you?  Would you support the idea of ending this 20th century habit?  Do you think it would make a difference in the childhood obesity epidemic?”

Question from Donna Eshelman, author of stellarcaterpillar.com:  “I have read about the increase in obesity among infants. Can you comment on this please?”

Reply from Gary Taubes to Dr. Greene:  “Having two young children, I’ve experienced the rice cereal thing with my own kids (Unfortunately I’m not the only parent determining their diet).  Yes, I think rice cereal is a mistake and that it certainly isn’t helping the obesity epidemic.  Nor is the high-fructose corn syrup/sugar content in some of the inexpensive formulas.”

Reply from Gary Taubes to Donna Eshelman:  “Hi, Donna.  As for the increase in obesity among infants, I think some of it, as I just suggested, is due to the sugars in formula.  I suspect some is due to feeding even young children fruit juice–the ubiquitous juice box–and some is due to the fact that their mothers are heavier, more diabetic, gain more weight in pregnancy, and eat higher carbohydrate and sugar diets than ever before.   This is what’s known as intra-uterine effect, where mothers who have high insulin levels or higher blood sugar prompt their unborn children to develop more insulin secreting cells which makes for both fatter babies and kids who are at increased risk of getting fat and diabetic later in life.  So, it’s sad, but its quite likely that we’re passing the obesity epidemic onto our children in the womb.”

If you are interested in this topic you can read Taubes’ articles, books, or his blog at garytaubes.com, or read the rest of the chat at  http://lat.ms/mtz4Zh.