Is a vegetarian diet safe for your baby?
In a recent Food Standards Agency survey, 5% of over 2000 adults surveyed claimed to be vegetarian or vegan, with women more likely to follow a vegetarian/vegan diet than men (6% vs 3%). Perhaps no surprises here, but how many parents want to wean their babies onto a vegetarian diet and is this a safe way of feeding?
I don’t know the answer to the first part of the question – I don’t think there is any accurate data to put a % to the number of babies being weaned as vegetarians. But I do know that babies and children can grow and develop normally on a vegetarian diet, provided extra attention is given to the foods they eat to make sure their nutritional needs are met. Vegetarian diets can be high in fibre, leading to lower energy intakes and reduced absorption of some important minerals, such as iron and zinc. You will need to make sure that there are alternative sources of iron in the diet if meat is excluded, so include foods such as pulses, beans, green leafy vegetables, and offer vitamin C from fruit, vegetables or fruit juices with every meal to improve iron absorption.
Vegan diets, on the other hand, can’t easily give babies all the nutrition they need and so these diets aren’t recommended for young babies, but if you are certain this is what you want for your baby you should definitely speak to a dietitian first.
All children between 6 months – 5 years who are following a vegetarian diet should be given vitamin drops containing vitamins A, C and D. Vegan children additionally need vitamin B12.
If you would like to read more about weaning your baby onto a vegetarian diet, have a look at the link below:
What are your thoughts on babies being given vegetarian diets? Let me know.
Tags: baby, eating, food, healthy, Helen, Hipp Organic, nutrition, organic, vitamins, weaning, vegetarian, vegan, fibre, iron, zinc, pulses, vitamin C
Categories: Baby development, Weaning
Babies with food intolerance
Most of you will know a baby, even if it’s not your own, with an intolerance to one food or other. Of course, in my job I often get asked for feeding advice for babies with food intolerances, and the most common is dairy intolerance. Cow’s milk protein intolerance, another name for dairy intolerance, is relatively common in babies and children, but luckily most of them will grow out of it by the age of 3. Symptoms of milk intolerance can include
eczema, vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach cramps, and to alleviate the symptoms dietary changes need to be introduced. Because milk is such an import
ant source of nutrients, especially calcium, for infants and young children, if you suspect your baby has a dairy intolerance it is important that you don’t cut milk and dairy products out of your baby’s diet without talking to your GP or a dietitian first.
If you are advised to start a milk-free diet, carry on breastfeeding or give an appropriate formula and, if you’ve started weaning, give milk-free foods. Although it is quite obvious that some foods contain milk and should be avoided, e.g. cheese, yogurt, fromage frais, others are less so, such as manufactured foods. Always read food labels carefully and if in any doubt why not give the manufacturer a call, or look on their website?
To make sure your baby is getting enough calcium, a calcium supplement might be a good idea but check this with your dietitian/GP first.
Have you got any good milk-free weaning recipes you would like to share? Please get in touch.
Until next time...Helen
Tags: Hipp Organic, baby, born, weaning, intolerance, food, nutrition, symptoms, milk, eczema, Helen
Categories: Milk feeding, Weaning
Baby led weaning
Have any of you tried baby led weaning? For those of you that haven’t or don’t really know what it is, baby led weaning is where the baby is encouraged to feed themselves a variety of solid ‘finger’ foods from the start, and it has attracted a lot of attention in the last year or so. For those that have tried this new approach to weaning, how was it?
Although some parents swear by it and I can see why some parents might be attracted to it, it does tend to take more time and create more mess which won’t suit a
ll parents and babies. Also, from my point of view the lack of research into baby led weaning is a concern, particularly if parents’ nutritional knowledge is limited or if baby is relatively developmentally delayed. So the advice I give, and the Department of Health’s official advice, still focuses on a more conventional approach to weaning using spoon feeding and purees at the start.
Of course, finger foods should be included in traditional weaning from around 6-8 months anyway to encourage babies to chew and to feed themselves. This helps with speech development and overall progress of babies towards family-type meals. Offering a selection of nutritious finger foods really encourages independence and will suit some babies who tend to be more ‘picky’ about what they eat. But remember, always stay with your baby and make sure they are sitting up straight while they’re eating.
Read our suggestions for finger foods to offer your baby.
Have a good week! - Helen
Getting enough iron in baby's diet
Did you know that the iron stores
babies are born with are often depleted by around 6 months of age? Unless the diet contains enough iron to replenish these stores babies and young children will be at risk of becoming iron deficient? Anaemia (iron deficiency) is particularly a problem when weaning onto a mixed diet is delayed and large volumes of milk continue to be given at 8 months of age and beyond. Formula fed babies are likely to have their iron stores better preserved than breastfed babies, with the problem arising with babies receiving 6 or more breastfeeds per day or cow’s milk instead of formula as their main milk drink.
Too much milk and iron deficiency levels in babies
For all babies, a variety of iron-containing weaning foods should be introduced from the age of 6 months to safeguard against iron deficiency. Meat and poultry-containing weaning foods can in fact be given from the start of weaning (before 6 months if babies are starting between 4-6 months), although often parents will choose to give cereal and fruit/vegetable based foods first. The iron found in meat, poultry and fish (known as ‘haem iron’) is better absorbed than the iron found in fortified cereals, vegetables, beans and pulses, so it makes sense to introduce these haem iron-rich foods as soon as possible. To help with the absorption of the ‘non haem iron’ found in these other foods it is important to serve foods containing vitamin C at the s
ame meal. Alternatively, there are a selection of manufactured baby foods like HiPP Organic foods containing meat or poultry that can be used at different stages of weaning to boost iron intakes. Have you got any good weaning recipes containing meat or poultry that you would like to share? We’d love to hear from you!
Bye for now! - Helen
Tags: HiPP Organic, baby, born, iron, eating, recipe, weaning, food, nutrition, Helen
Categories: About Hipp Organic, Baby development, Milk feeding, Weaning