In many countries, infant cereals are one of the first foods introduced during the complementary feeding stage. These cereals are usually made with refined cereal flours, even though several health benefits have been linked to the intake of whole grain cereals. Prior evidence suggests that food preferences are developed at early stages of life, and may persist in later childhood and adulthood. Our aim was to test whether an infant cereal with 30% of whole grain was similarly accepted both by parents and infants in comparison to a similar cereal made from refined flour. A total of 81 infants between 4 and 24 months old were included in the study. Parent-infant pairs participated in an 8-day experimental study. Acceptance was rated on hedonic scales (4-points for infants and 7-points for parents). Other attributes like color, smell, and taste were evaluated by the parents. Acceptability for infant cereals with whole grain and refined cereals was very similar both for infants (2.30 ± 0.12 and 2.32 ± 0.11, p = 0.606) and parents (6.1 ± 0.8 and 6.0 ± 0.9, p = 0.494). Therefore, our findings show that there is an opportunity to introduce whole grain cereals to infants, including those who are already used to consuming refined infant cereals, thereby accelerating the exposure of whole grain in early life.
Keywords: acceptability; complementary feeding; infant cereals; whole grain.