Should babies be weaned onto a vegan diet?
Further to my post about vegetarian diets on 27th October, a couple of mums have asked me for more information on vegan diets for babies. As I said before, I believe vegetarian diets are suitable for children, provided parents take care to ensure the diet is varied and contains adequate energy, sources of iron and vitamin C at mealtimes to aid iron absorption.
Meeting all baby’s nutritional needs with a vegan diet excluding all animal products is not so easy, however, and should only be embarked upon after very careful consideration and consultation with a dietitian/doctor. It is too easy for the vegan diet to be deficient in energy or essential nutrients unless the parent really understands the importance of nutrition and makes appropriate food choices.
As a vegan diet is usually bulky and high in fibre, babies get full up before they have taken enough energy so it is really important that high calorie foods such as tofu, avocados, bananas and smooth nut and seed butters (e.g.tahini, cashew or peanut butter) are given. Extra energy can be added to foods by using vegetable oils or vegan fat spreads. For protein, beans and pulses, cereals, tofu and soya yogurts are useful, and of course breast milk or a soya-based formula milk formula will help ensure baby gets enough protein. This milk will also help to provide much-needed calcium. Iron deficiency can be avoided by including dark green leafy vegetables, beans and pulses, and dried fruits (particularly apricots). Omega 3 fatty acids are found in some vegetable oils (linseed, flaxseed, walnut and rapeseed) and it is good to use these oils in place of other oils (sunflower, safflower or corn) to help meet omega 3 requirements.
Parents must also pay particular attention to baby’s vitamin requirements. A vitamin supplement containing vitamins A, C and D is recommended for all babies from 6 months up to 5 years. Since the only reliable sources of vitamin B12 in the diet are meat, eggs and dairy products, vegans must get their B12 from fortified foods such as yeast extracts, fortified breakfast cereals or soya formulas, and a B12 supplement may also be needed.
What do you think- should babies ever be weaned onto a vegan diet? Should parents impose their dietary beliefs on their children?
Let me know.
Tags: babies, baby, Babyclub, eating, fibre, food, healthy, Helen, Hipp Organic, nutrition, organic, vegan, vegetarian
Categories: Baby development, Weaning
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