Vegan Baby? How to Follow a Plant Based Diet for Your Baby...
Updated: Sep 19, 2021
My Registered Nutritionist and Pre- and Post Natal Exercise specialist, Emma West joins me for another blog post. This time Emma shares her professional advice on how to wean your baby VEGAN - where to begin, what to mindful of, where to supplement, and which food sources are the best for your baby. Plus Emma includes a few words of advice for women who are following a plant-based diet themselves while pregnant or while breastfeeding!
Emma, Can my baby or child be a vegan?
Emma: "Yes, as long as your child gets all the nutrients they need, they can be brought up happily and healthily on a vegan diet.
"In the early stages of weaning, there isn’t much difference for any baby. Using veg and fruit finger foods to begin with and getting your baby used to different flavours and textures is always important. In the later stages of weaning grains, protein and iron rich foods are introduced. By one year of age, you are aiming for your child to be eating a varied and balanced diet, similar to the rest of the family."
Is there anything I need to be mindful of in my child's vegan diet?
Emma: "There are certain nutrients you have to be more aware and mindful of. This is to ensure you baby is receiving all the nutrients they need to grow and develop properly.
"Protein and Calcium - Protein does tend to be a worry when talking about a vegan diet but the body's requirements are actually much lower than what the general population eats on a regular basis. Requirements can be met through breast or formula milk and a variety of foods."
Emma: "These are the nutrients to be mindful of in your baby's vegan diet:
"An iron rich diet is needed from 6 months onwards. It’s recommended that a good source of iron is eaten at every meal with a vitamin C source to help with absorption. Plant-based iron-rich sources include beans, pulses, lentils, peas, tofu, spinach, kale, quinoa, cashews, nutritional yeast, oats, potatoes, dried apricots, fortified breakfast cereals.
"Vitamin b12 is naturally found in animal products, it’s essential for red blood cell formation and neurological function (amongst others!). It can also be found in fortified in plant based milks, nutritional yeast, marmite, plant spreads and some vegan cheese alternatives. But remember to always check the labels. Alternatively, a B12 supplement can be taken if you feel requirements are not being met.
Vitamin A and C
"The Department of Health recommends drops for all children six months to 5 years (unless they are drinking more than 500ml of formula).
"Vitamin D- should be supplemented in all breast fed babies and all formula fed babies when intake drops below 500ml. Supplements should be the vitamin D2 form (D3 is normally derived from animal sources).
"Iodine is essential to regulate thyroid hormones, brain development and growth. It can be transferred through breast milk, so mum should ensure her intake of 200mcg a day is achieved. Plant based milk alternatives can be fortified but always check the labels. A supplement is advised to ensure levels for Mum and baby are met.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
"Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain development. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is found in walnuts, rapeseed oil, chia seeds, linseeds and hemp seeds. EPA (eicosapentonic acid) and DHA (docosahexanoic acid) are recommended to be supplemented in the diet for pregnant women, infants and children who are following a vegan diet.
"Plant-based Protein sources include pulses, grains, nuts, seeds, soya, mycoprotein, pea protein.
"Good Calcium sources include: plant based milk alternatives, soybeans, white beans, spinach, tahini, broccoli, sweet potato, quinoa, almonds, chick peas.
"A vegan diet does tend to be high in fibre, which is great to keep the bowels moving. But, it can mean children get full up before they have reached their nutritional requirements. Lower fibre starchy foods might be more useful, such as white pasta or rice. Quinoa also contains more protein that rice, pasta or potatoes. If you have any questions or concerns, consult your GP or dietitian.
Emma: "Want to know more about weaning? Read my previous weaning blog post with Isobel for more tips!"
Make sure to also check out my Top 10 Weaning Recipe Books for some vegan baby weaning recipe inspiration!
Emma, Do you have any advice for Mums who are following a vegan diet while pregnant or while breastfeeding?
Emma: "If you are currently pregnant or breastfeeding and are following a vegan diet, make sure that YOU are getting enough of all the nutrients listed in the bullet points above!! Plus check out my previous post with Isobel for more generalised nutrition advice for a pregnant and breastfeeding women!
Thank you so much Emma, once again really fascinating information and simple but effective advice, and good to hear it straight from a professional!
Emma is based around Loughton, Essex, and offers pre and post-natal sessions tailored specifically to your needs. If you are looking for personal training sessions she will also bring the gym to you! Sessions take place in the comfort of your own home.
My upcoming blog posts will be featuring mindfulness for the whole family, how to get your toddler talking, and a lowdown on baby reflux! Sign up to my mailing list to get the latest, and to get my fabulous Autumn newsletter straight into your inbox in the next couple of weeks! While you are here why not read some more great tips from some of my other favourite specialists: Midwife and Lactation Consultant Shelley Wilson, Sleep Consultant Alexandra Collingbourne, and Declutterer and Organiser Joanne Forde.
Check out my other posts for more info and advice on screen time, dinner times, fussy eaters, buying pre-loved children's clothing, decluttering before your new baby, and more. Visit the rest of my website to find out more about my parenting coaching services, child development, child behaviour, and positive parenting!
Get in touch for more information on any of the topics mentioned here or elsewhere on my site, I would love to hear from you!