What is Developing Appetites all about?

Welcome to Developing Appetites, a blog dedicated to exploring how our appetites develop during early childhood. We will examine the wide range of influences on children’s developing appetites, eating behaviors, food preferences, and dietary patterns. Some of these influences include what moms eat during pregnancy, early feeding exposures (e.g., breastfeeding versus formula feeding), and how parents feed and interact with their children during mealtimes. Some of these influences have yet to be discovered – we will discover them together as new research emerges! This blog will help you better understand the science of how children’s early experiences shape their developing appetites to help you make the best decisions regarding what and how to feed the children in your life.

We know that what children eat affects their behavior, development, and health. Therefore, we’ll also explore how children’s developing appetites influence their weight and health outcomes. Early childhood is a sensitive period of development, meaning the habits formed and lessons learned during early childhood last a lifetime. This also means that early childhood is a time of great potential to give our children a healthy start. So, the aim of every post will be to help new parents, caregivers, researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers understand how to harness this sensitive period of development to promote young children’s preferences for healthy foods and healthy development.

Overall, I hope this blog provides you with some interesting stories about why we like what we like and eat what we eat. I hope to give you some perspective regarding developmentally appropriate expectations for children’s eating behaviors and dietary patterns. I aim to provide you with reasonable, science-based advice regarding how to manage the difficult aspects of early feeding interactions, as well as how to enjoy this special, yet fleeting, time of early learning and exploration. Finally, I hope to give you some comfort in knowing how much of our success as parents comes down to acceptance, patience, and consistency –  if we are diligent in practicing these three skills, our children will turn out just fine.

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About Admin

Alison K. Ventura, PhD Posted on

Dr. Alison Ventura is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Public Health at the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She is also Director of the Cal Poly Healthy Kids Lab and Associate Director of Research Training and Fellowship for the Cal Poly Center for Health Research. Dr. Ventura holds a PhD in Human Development and Family Studies from the Pennsylvania State University, two MS degrees from the Pennsylvania State University: one in Nutritional Sciences and the other in Human Development and Family Studies, and a BS in Psychology with an emphasis in Biology and a minor in Community Nutrition from the University of California, Davis. Dr. Ventura also trained as a NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award postdoctoral fellow at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a taste and smell research institute in Philadelphia, PA. For the past decade, Dr. Ventura’s research has primarily focused on parent-child feeding interactions and understanding how these interactions shape dietary preferences, eating behaviors, and growth trajectories during infancy and early childhood. Much of Dr. Ventura’s recent work focuses on promotion of responsive feeding during breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, and the introduction to complementary foods and beverages.


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