Are There Sensitive Periods for Food Acceptance in Infancy?

Gillian Greville-Harris, Sarah Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
139 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose of Review

A sensitive period in development is one in which it is easier for learning to take place; the behaviour can however still be learned at a later stage, but with more difficulty. This is in contrast to a critical period, a time at which a behaviour must be learned, and if this window of opportunity is missed, then the behaviour can never be acquired. Both might determine food acceptance in childhood.

Recent Findings

There is evidence to support the idea of a sensitive period for the introduction of tastes, a critical period for the introduction of textures and for the development of oral motor function, and a possible critical period for the introduction of new foods but only in children where there is an innate disposition to develop early and extreme disgust responses.


There are both sensitive and critical periods in the acquisition of food preferences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-196
JournalCurrent Nutrition Reports
Issue number2
Early online date29 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Sensitive periods
  • Critical periods
  • Infancy
  • Childhood
  • Feeding eating
  • Neophobia
  • Disgust
  • Sensory hypersensitivity
  • Tactile defensiveness
  • Oral motor function


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