Current Nutrition Reports

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 134–140 | Cite as

The Influence of Human Milk on Flavor and Food Preferences

  • Rebecca L. DunnEmail author
  • Rachelle Lessen
Food Acceptance and Nutrition in Infants and Young Children (H Coulthard, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Food Acceptance and Nutrition in Infants and Young Children


Purpose of Review

The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the literature that examines sensory experiences during early feeding practices and the influence human milk has on flavor and food preferences.

Recent Findings

Research suggests that the development of flavor and food preferences begins during the prenatal period through exposure to amniotic fluid and continues in the postnatal period during breastfeeding. Breastfeeding provides an infant with a unique variety of constantly changing chemosensory experiences as human milk contains flavors from foods that are part of the mother’s diet. These early flavor exposures are believed to help with the transition to complementary foods during later infancy and early childhood. Compared to formula-fed infants who are exposed to limited sensory experiences due to its constant flavor, breastfed infants demonstrate greater acceptance of novel foods when they are part of the maternal diet. Studies show that toddlers, preschool, and school-aged children who were breastfed as infants demonstrate more positive acceptance of a wider variety of healthy foods and are more accepting of new foods and are less likely to be picky eaters.


Infant exposure early in life to a wide variety of flavors from healthy and nutrient-rich foods through amniotic fluid and human milk contributes to an individual’s unique set of taste preferences that can lead to healthier food choices and optimal health.


Human milk Breastfeeding Infant feeding Flavor development Sensory experiences Food acceptance 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Rebecca L. Dunn and Rachelle Lessen declare they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health ScienceKeene State CollegeKeeneUSA
  2. 2.Department of NursingThe Children’s Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaUSA

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