(NaturalPath) According to a study out of Cornell University and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, at the dinner table, babies do a lot more than playing with their sippy cups.

The research shows that babies pay close attention to what food is being eaten around them – and especially who is eating it. In the study, 1-year-olds expect people to like the same foods, unless those people belong to different social or cultural groups, such as those that speak a different language.

“Kids are sensitive to cultural groups early in life,” said a researcher. “When babies see someone eat, they are not just learning about food – they are also learning about who eats what with whom. An ability to think about people as being ‘same versus different’, and perhaps even ‘us versus them,’ starts very early in life.”

In the experiment, the researchers used a well-known fact in developmental psychology: Babies will look longer at novel actions or things that deviate from their general expectations of the world.

Interestingly, the bilingual babies didn’t have the same experience as monolingual babies, potentially due to the fact that their family spoke multiple languages all together at the dinner table. “Language wasn’t marking groups in the same way for these kids.” The researcher said. She went on to say, “If you’re thinking about places to intervene in people’s eating, framing food selection as a social problem as opposed to a nutritional problem might be a good way to get at it.” Also, “If you feed your child the perfect diet, yet your child sees you and your friends and family eating junk food, she is presumably learning about foods from her social experiences, too.” So, be aware!

raziRazi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.

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