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
How much fruit and veg should baby eat a day?
I often get asked “how much fruit and veg should my baby be having a day?” For adults and older children the message is pretty clear and can be seen everywhere – on supermarket shelves, food labels, TV and magazine adverts, healthy eating literature, websites (see below) – eat 5 portions a day, each portion being 80g.
Visit the NHS website - 5 a day
Although fruits and vegetables are staple foods during weaning and it’s hard to imagine most babies not getting enough, as yet health departments in the UK haven’t quantified the recommended fruit and veg intakes for babies and so parents often don’t know whether their little ones are getting enough.
Fruit and veg are full of lots of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fibre, and to make sure your baby benefits from the full array of nutrients these foods have to offer it makes good sense to include lots of different types - a mix of green vegetables (e.g. broccoli, cabbage, green beans), yellow or orange vegetables (e.g. carrots, squash, swede, sweet potato), and fruits (e.g. apricots, mangoes, bananas, peaches). Include some fruit and veg at every meal if possible, and aim for 5 servings a day, but don’t worry if some days, especially at the start of weaning, this is less.
With regards to portion sizes for babies, official advice only says that the amount is smaller than the adult recommendation of 80g, but how much smaller? The Caroline Walker Trust has recently published advice on portion sizes for toddlers aged 1-4 years and they quote 40g fruit/veg as a portion. They are publishing advice on infant portion sizes later in the year but until this is available, my thinking is that 30-35g makes a sensible portion size. This equates to approximately half a small pear, apple, banana or peach; one small plum; one small carrot or parsnip; 3 cauliflower florets; 1 tablespoon peas. Most HiPP Organic baby foods contain 1-2 fruit or veg portions per jar or pot, so they can really help boost fruit and veg intakes.
Let me know whether you think your baby is getting enough.......
Best wishes - Helen
Pregnancy and healthy eating
I’m really getting quite excited about this new blog of mine! It was great to hear back from you all about your own experiences on the last post and I’m hoping I can pass onto you all some really useful nutritional advice!
As I mentioned to you in my last post, we recently did a survey with the HiPP Baby Club members and one of the first questions we asked pregnant mothers was ‘Are you following any guidelines on what you should eat during pregnancy?’ Half of the respondents said they have only followed some of the guidelines and have been quite relaxed about their diets, whilst just over a quarter said they have followed their natural instincts on what they should be eating. This left less than a quarter saying they have followed the guidelines religiously. This got me thinking, are health professionals like myself and the Government overloading mums-to-be with advice on what to eat/not to eat during pregnancy and if we were to prioritise, what are the most important bits of dietary advice for pregnant mums?
I believe, and I’m sure you will all agree, that as a parent the most important thing always is to make sure your baby is safe. For this reason I would say that you should definitely follow the advice to avoid certain foods on food safety grounds e.g. raw meat/eggs, unpasteurised cheese, certain fish. Why not download a copy of our Foods to avoid card from our Baby Club that gives a ready-reckoner on what foods you should not eat during your pregnancy.
On top of that, I would definitely recommend that mums-to-be should eat as wide a variety of different foods as possible to make sure they get all the nourishment mum and baby needs. And of course, there are folic acid supplements that are so important in the early stages of pregnancy, vitamin D supplements important for some........so the list goes on!
But remember the advice that is given is based on the most up-to-date knowledge and as a health professional I hope you mums feel able to take on board as much of this advice as possible, for your own benefit and to help ensure your baby can get the best start in life as possible.
Let me know what you think – are health professionals like me and the Government giving the best dietary advice to pregnant mums?
Best wishes - Helen
Tags: Helen, HiPP Organic, Babyclub, pregnant, healthy, eating, mums, supplements, vitamins, nutrition
Categories: About Hipp Organic, Pregnancy