The Washington Post

What science can teach parents

A video series offers expert advice on the latest thinking on your kid’s eating and sleeping habits and more. (Jim Young/Reuters)

Parenting may not be a science, but “there is a lot science can teach us about parenting,” Haley Nelson notes in the introductory video to “The Curious Parent,” a series she created with her husband, biologist Rob Nelson.

In the series, the pair, who also create films for, interview scientists for the latest thinking on issues familiar to new parents: sleep deprivation, pain management and picky eaters.

A video exploring why babies and toddlers have an affinity for certain foods (anything sweet) but not others (things that taste bitter, including some vegetables) offers a nice dose of the science behind why it may take eight attempts and a ton of patience to get your child to eat broccoli. Babies come preprogrammed with an affinity for certain tastes, the experts explain. For them, sweet is a signal for calories, which help with growth, whereas bitter equals poison. There is hope, as the video notes: A child’s palate can be trained, which is where the repeated tastings of broccoli and a lot of parental determination come in.

The Nelsons hope to release a new video every other week on such topics as the chemistry of cuddling and “pregnancy brain.”

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.

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