Babies are Brain-eating, Bone-sucking Death Larvae


What's baby talk for 'give me all the bone marrow?' Hemera/Thinkstock

That's right. Babies aren't quite the innocent milk-and-applesauce gobblers we take them for. Given their choice of nibbles, they'd shun pineapple and veggies in favor of brains and bone marrow.

Or at least that's what Clara Davis found in her famous 1939 study of self-selecting diet among orphanage babies. The test subjects were given the choice of various foods including fresh fruits, veggies, dairy, eggs, chicken, beef and a smattering of organ meats. They didn't pass up the brains -- and bone marrow was the hands-down favorite.

That's all understandable when you strip away adult, Western dietary preferences and factor in marrow's rich fat content. According to LiveStrong, beef brain is a rich source of vitamins and minerals -- and it's one of the few naturally-occurring food sources of vitamin A.

Of course the Davis study is hardly bulletproof. You'll see it criticized as "largely a construct of assertions without evidence" while others point to some of its ideas in support of baby-led weaning.

"Gulp" author Mary Roach also points to a study from psychologist Paul Rozin that found children aged 16-29 months ate stuff like ketchup-laden cookies, dish soap and fake (but edible) dog poo in rather high percentages. At that age they haven't absorbed their parents' food prejudices yet. You might love veggie burgers and shun the sight of freshly grilled brain, but the larval human has its own notion of what looks delicious.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.