New research claims that babies who are more discerning (or picky, to ditch the euphemism) when it comes to unknown toys–and unfamiliar experiences–usually reveal themselves to be less adventurous eaters, too.
“From the time they’re very young, some infants are more ‘approaching’ and react positively to new things, whereas other infants are more ‘withdrawing’ and react negatively to the same stimuli,” explains postdoctoral fellow at University of Colorado Denver Kameron Moding.
You’ll probably notice that your little one is enthusiastic about anything and everything you put on his plate once weaning starts; however, at around 9 months old this welcoming attitude can take a sharp turn, developing into a constellation of specific tastes or “approach-withdrawal tendencies” in scientist-speak.
The connection between these tendencies and influence on personality is still open to comprehensive study, but the correlation Moding and her team found between infants’ positive responses to new playthings and then their positive responses to untried food–and the converse–definitely seems to point at a theme that hints at potential personality traits.
“Responses to novel foods appear to follow the same developmental pattern as the emergence of inhibited approach,” note the study authors. “Infants were less accepting of novel foods after, compared to before, the development of inhibited approach.”
“It was striking how consistently the responses to new foods related to the responses to new toys,” Moding says.
Of course, the experiments were purely observational; so drawing a causal relationship between picky eating and more cautious personality traits–or, more logically, vice versa, is only a matter of conjecture. Although, the authors do concede that two key indicators of a more outgoing temperament could very well be a willingness to play with new toys and try new foods.