Olfactory conditioning facilitates diet transition in human infants.
We evaluated whether Pavlovian conditioning methods could be used to increase the ingestion of non-preferred solutions by formula-fed human infants. In baseline measures, 5-7 month old infants sucked less frequently and consumed less water than regular formula. During a 3-day olfactory conditioning period, parents placed a small scented disk, the conditioned stimulus, on the rim of their infants' formula bottle at every feeding. Following this training, infants' responses to water were tested when their water bottles had a disk scented with the training odor, a novel odor, or no odor. Infants tested with the training odor sucked more frequently and consumed significantly more water than they had at baseline. Infants tested with no odor or a novel odor consumed water at or below baseline levels. These data demonstrate that olfactory conditioning can be used to enhance ingestion in infants and suggest that such methods may be useful for infants experiencing difficulty when making transitions from one diet to another.
Coyle, S; Arnold, HM; Goldberg-Arnold, JS; Rubin, DC; Hall, WG