Psychologists at Reading University found that one year-olds who regularly look at pictures of vegetables and fruit not part of their normal diet are much more enthusiastic about tasting them.
Parents were given picture books about four foods -- two fruits and two vegetables.
Two of them were already familiar to the child, such as carrots and grapes while two others such as radish and lychees were not.
They then read the book with the child every day for the next two weeks.
At the end of the fortnight they were offered four vegetables -- two from the book and two not from the book -- and a similar plate of fruit.
The children showed more interest in tasting unfamiliar foods if they had previously seen pictures of them in books. So, for example, children who had seen lychees in their books tasted these before trying a fruit not shown, such as blueberries. Toddlers who had seen blueberries chose these before lychees.
Dr Carmel Houston-Price, of the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Science, who led the study, said: "We think that showing children pictures of healthy foods might work to increase their willingness to taste them.
"In the future we will examine whether picture books might be used to help parents introduce new foods at home, and whether parents whose children are fussy eaters might particularly benefit from this strategy."
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