Objective: To determine if food-related experiences in the first 2 years of life predict dietary variety in school-aged children.
Design/setting: Child/mother pairs were interviewed 7 or 8 times when children were 2 to 24 months using a randomized incomplete block design to schedule interviews. Each child/mother pair was interviewed when the child was ages 6, 7, and 8 years.
Participants: Child/mother pairs (n = 70) were continuous participants in the longitudinal study.
Main outcome measures: Dependent variables were children's vegetable and fruit dietary variety, assessed from 3 days of dietary data at ages 6, 7, and 8 years. Independent variables from the first 2 years of life were selected from the longitudinal data set.
Analyses: General linear models. Adjustments for age that vegetables (or fruits) were introduced in the diet.
Results: Vegetable variety in the school-aged child was predicted by mother's vegetable preferences, R2 =.084. Fruit variety in the school-aged child was predicted by breast-feeding duration and either early fruit variety (R2 =.254) or fruit exposure (R2 =.246).
Conclusions/implications: Nutrition education messages for mothers should emphasize the importance of early food-related experiences to school-aged children's acceptance of a variety of vegetables and fruits.