Baby Steps

Expectant and young families are in the sights of Slow Food UK as the organization consults on Slow Food Baby, a workshop module to help growing families and ensure that the importance of taste and its connection to healthy food choices are better understood.

“Expectant and young families are faced with an overload of information about what is best for mothers to eat and what to avoid during pregnancy, and the best ways to feed the growing infant in the first year – and often that information is conflicting causing confusion and uncertainty,” says Rhonda Smith, Interim Education Programmes Director for Slow Food UK

Slow Food UK’s aim in developing its Slow Food Baby workshop is to support families in being better informed and thus more confident in the food and nutrition choices they make as their lifestyles and eating habits change. The workshop will also confirm the importance of, and mechanisms involved in, taste development, particularly during the first year of life, whilst ensuring that all guidance and materials is accessible to all segments of the population, irrespective of income, location, culture or creed.

“By the eighth month, growing babies in the womb have all the taste buds they need for adult life and can differentiate between flavors,” says Smith. “Breast milk continues to introduce the infant to different tastes derived from the mother’s diet. Introducing a variety of foods and textures during weaning from six months onwards helps continue baby’s taste adventure whilst laying down the foundations for the enjoyment of a wide variety of foods throughout life.”

Rhonda is currently developing materials in association with a wide group of parents, expectant families, experts and professionals before entering a piloting phase with Slow Food UK groups during the autumn. There is great interest amongst all audiences in understanding how to improve food choice at the earliest ages in order to embed a preference for a varied and healthier diet– and Slow Food UK intends to play its part in addressing the health inequalities driven by ignorance, indifference or ingrained behavioral patterns.

“We expect to be launching Slow Food Baby in Spring 2011 and are currently developing partnerships at national and regional levels to support delivery,” adds Rhonda. “Taking time to develop taste and introduce a wide range of foods at the earliest ages has been proven to support food choice throughout life. We aim to support growing families achieve that goal.”

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