Background & aims: Previous studies showed that (1) breastfeeding and (2) higher food variety early in weaning can increase acceptance of new foods for the next few days. Here we measure, in two European regions, effects of breast or formula feeding and experience with different levels of vegetable variety early in weaning on new food acceptance during two months following the start of weaning.
Methods: Breast- or formula-fed infants received their first vegetable (carrot purée) and, over the next 9 days, either carrots every day; 3 vegetables changed every 3 days; or 3 vegetables changed daily. On the 12th and 23rd days they received new vegetable purées, zucchini-tomato then peas. Several weeks later, they received 2 more new foods, meat and fish. Acceptance of new foods was measured by quantities eaten and by liking ratings.
Results: Breastfeeding and variety early in weaning increased new food acceptance. Frequency of change was more effective than number of vegetables fed. The combination of breastfeeding and high variety produced greatest new food intake. This effect persisted 2 months later.
Conclusions: These interventions correspond to differences in milk and vegetable feeding observed in the regions studied suggesting that the results have practical consequences for acceptance of new foods.