Modern children have tried olives and quinoa before turning five

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Millions of modern children have already had their first taste of olives, hummus and quinoa before the age of five, a study has found.

Today’s youngsters are having more exotic and adventurous food from an early age than in previous generations, with many also having their first taste of curry, aubergine and even pak choi before their 5th birthday.

One in twenty under-fives have even tucked into mussels - something many adults rarely or never eat.

And almost six in ten parents of under-fives even claim their child has a more varied diet than they do.

But the early exotic start could have a lasting effect with 72 per cent of parents believing a child who has a more varied diet will be more adventurous and willing to try new foods as they get older.

Kiddylicious (Kiddylicious.com) nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed, which commissioned the research to mark the launch of My First Wafers, said: “Parents today have more choice than ever when it comes to foods they can feed their babies, meaning youngsters are eating far more exotic and adventurous foods from an early age.

“Olives, quinoa and couscous are foods which weren’t readily available in previous generations but are now staple items in a lot of households, with this reflected in the diets of young children.

“Moving babies onto solid food is an important milestone and the foods offered at this stage set the tone for future food preferences and patterns of eating.

“But it’s not just about nurturing adventurous eaters - all finger foods, whether it’s an exotic avocado, asparagus spear or wafers, are important to help children develop their pincer grip, learn how to self-feed and also develop the jaw muscles they need for speech and language.”

The study of 2,000 parents - 1,000 who have an under five and 1,000 who have children aged 20 and over, found one in ten of today’s under-fives have already tried olives - double the one in twenty who had done so by the age of five in previous generations.

And 37 per cent of under-fives have already had curry compared to just 12 per cent of their older counterparts.

And almost one in ten youngsters today have had their first taste of quinoa before their 5th birthday.

Other foods growing in popularity with young children include sweet potatoes, couscous, hummus and asparagus.

The study also found eight in ten parents believe the diets of babies and toddlers have changed over the years with today’s youngers being weaned onto rice cakes, mango and even avocado instead of the more traditional toast, porridge and rusks.

Top 20 exotic foods eaten by under-fives:

1. Sweet potato

2. Curry

3. Mango

4. Baby sweetcorn

5. Butternut squash

6. Garlic

7. Courgettes

8. Spinach

9. Avocado

10. Couscous

11. Hummus

12. Nuts

13. Aubergine

14. Mangetout

15. Olives

16. Asparagus

17. Kale

18. Gherkins

19. Brie

20. Guacamole

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