Your baby 0-1 year

The taste, how does it work?

The taste, how does it work?

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Why is a newborn baby going to eat sweet? Why will he enjoy salty a few months later? Very early, your toddler asserts his food preferences. He likes or he does not like. How does the sense of taste so complex? Explanations.

  • It is very early that the taste comes to your baby, even in utero! His taste system is set up and is already operational. He will continue to improve during the first years of his life, as his brain matures and, above all, through the accumulation of experiences.

The receptors of taste

Professor André Holley, a researcher at the European Center for Taste Sciences of the CNRS, details the three major receptor families, on which the taste of your child - as yours for that matter - is based.

  • First, the olfactory receptors, responsible for detecting the aromas. But why evoke the sense of smell when we talk about taste? Simply because these two senses are related. Taste a food with the nose completely clogged and it will be difficult to find the least flavor! Covering all nasal cavities, these olfactory receptors are about a thousand. They settled in their positions between the 8th and the 11th week of your child's fetal life and have been operational since that time.
  • Second Battalion: the taste receptors, They have also been in place since the 11th week of pregnancy, devolving to the detection of flavors. Housed in the papillae, on the tongue and the palate, they are divided by specialty: some perceive salty, others acid, others sweet, others bitter, and so on. Because contrary to what we have long believed, there are not only these four basic flavors, but an infinity!
  • Third group: receptors that have taken up residence on the trigeminal nerve (three-branched) that innervates the nasal and oral cavities. A real man-orchestra as he captures different information all by himself! It is thanks to its tactile fibers that your baby perceives the texture of the food (are they liquid, unctuous, crunchy, crispy?). This nerve tells him about the temperature of the food (hot, cold, cold), the pain. It is also a great sensitive reacting strongly to certain molecules such as pepper, chilli or mustard.

The taste preferences of babies

  • Between the sweet, the salty, acid, bitter, and umami (taste of broth), toddlers made the difference at 3 months, 6 months, 12 and 20 months. While the appreciation of sweetness decreases in the first year, that of salty increases sharply. The reactions to the umami flavor remain neutral on average.
  • As for acid and bitterthey are the least appreciated but not necessarily rejected.

Isabelle Gravillon