Compared to other food groups, vegetable intakes are lowest relative to recommendations. Breastfeeding and initial introduction to vegetables may help infants establish long-lasting taste preferences. We examined the relationship between breastfeeding and initial vegetable introduction and vegetable intake in early childhood (ages 13-60 months). This repeated cross-sectional study used data from the national WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2 collected from low-income mother/caregivers about infants from around birth through age 5 (60 months; n = 3773). Survey-weighted adjusted regression models assessed associations between breastfeeding and vegetable introduction measures with vegetable consumption at child ages 13, 24, 36, 48, and 60 months. Longer breastfeeding duration was associated with a slightly, but significantly, greater variety of vegetables consumed/day in early childhood. There was also a small but positive statistically significant association between the number of different types of vegetables consumed on a given day at 9 months and the amount and variety of vegetables consumed/day in early childhood. Age of initial vegetables introduction and whether vegetables were the first/second food introduced were not consistently related to the amount or variety of vegetables consumed later in childhood. Longer breastfeeding and introduction to a greater variety of vegetables at 9 months may be behaviors to target to increase consumption of a greater variety of vegetables by young children.
Keywords: breastfeeding; complementary feeding; timing of vegetable introduction; vegetable consumption; vegetable variety.