A step-by-step introduction to vegetables at the beginning of complementary feeding. The effects of early and repeated exposure

Appetite. 2015 Jan:84:280-90. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.10.014. Epub 2014 Oct 18.


Breastfeeding (BF) is associated with willingness to accept vegetables. This may be due to the variety of flavours delivered via breast milk. Some mothers add vegetables to milk during complementary feeding (CF) to enhance acceptance. The present study tested a step-by-step exposure to vegetables in milk then rice during CF, on intake and liking of vegetables. Just before CF, enrolled mothers were randomised to an intervention (IG, n = 18; 6 BF) or control group (CG, n = 18; 6 BF). IG infants received 12 daily exposures to vegetable puree added to milk (days 1-12), then 12 × 2 daily exposures to vegetable puree added to rice at home (days 13-24). Plain milk and rice were given to CG. Then both received 11 daily exposures to vegetable puree. Intake was weighed and liking rated on days 25-26 and 33-35 after the start of CF in the laboratory, supplemented by the same data recorded at home. Vegetables were rotated daily (carrots, green beans, spinach, broccoli). Intake, liking and pace of eating were greater for IG than CG infants. Intake and liking of carrots were greater than green beans. However, at 6m then 18m follow up, vegetable (carrot > green beans) but not group differences were observed. Mothers reported appreciation of the structure and guidance of this systematic approach. Early exposure to vegetables in a step-by-step method could be included in CF guidelines and longer term benefits assessed by extending the exposure period.

Keywords: Complementary feeding; Infant feeding; Mere exposure; Repeated exposure; Vegetable intake; Weaning.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Diet*
  • Eating*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food*
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Male
  • Vegetables*