Think it doesn't matter what your baby eats in their early years?  It's all just a bunch of baby mush, right?

Think again.

A new study lends credence to a theory that has been taking shape in the pediatric world for years – that babies' food preferences kick in at birth – or maybe even in the womb.

The study comes from scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers surveyed 1,500 mothers and found that the longer children were breastfed in their first year of life, the more likely they were to choose healthy foods at the age of six. These kids drank more water, ate more fruits and veggies, and drank fewer sweetened beverages than their peers who weren't breastfed or were breastfed for shorter periods.  

They also found that children who were given healthy foods to eat between the ages of six months to one year were more likely to continue eating healthy foods as six-year-olds. In contrast, kids who were given juice or other sweetened beverages to drink in their first year were twice as likely as their peers to drink sweetened beverages instead of water later in life.

Bottom line: This research confirms what your pediatrician has been saying for years. The more you can expose kids to fruits and veggies in their first year of life, the more likely they will be to choose those foods as they get older. Your child's first year of life packs a punch when it comes to establishing the eating preferences that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Make sure it's a healthy one.

This study was published today in a special supplement to the journal Pediatrics.

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