The sweet tooth of infancy: Is sweetness exposure related to sweetness liking in infants up to 12 months of age?

Carina Müller*, Claire Chabanet, Gertrude G. Zeinstra, Gerry Jager, Camille Schwartz, Sophie Nicklaus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Infants become increasingly exposed to sweet-tasting foods in their first year of life. However, it is still unclear whether repeated exposure to sweet taste is linked to infants' sweetness liking during this period. Making use of data from the OPALINE cohort, this study aimed to examine the link between sweetness exposure and sweetness liking during two important periods in early infant feeding: at the start of complementary feeding (3-6 months) and the transition to the family table (10-12 months). Infants' sweetness exposure was assessed using seven-day food records which were completed by mothers every month (n=312), reporting daily consumption rates of formula/breast milk or complementary food and the type of formula milk and/or complementary foods for each feeding occasion. Infants' sweetness liking was studied in the laboratory at three, six, and twelve months of age by assessing their response to a lactose-water solution and the amount drunk of this solution compared to plain water. Linear regressions and SEM assessed associations between exposure to and liking for sweetness at six and twelve months. Neither at six (n=182) nor at twelve months (n=197) was sweetness exposure associated with sweetness liking. While sweetness liking at three months was unrelated to liking at six months, the latter predicted sweetness liking at twelve months. These findings demonstrate no association between sweetness exposure at three to twelve months and liking at six and twelve months despite a sharp increase in sweetness exposure in that period. However, sweetness liking at six and twelve months was positively associated.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Aug 2022


  • birth cohort
  • Children
  • Infants
  • Keywords:
  • Longitudinal
  • sugar
  • Sweetness exposure
  • Sweetness liking
  • Sweetness preference


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