HiPP Organic

HiPP's Baby & Nutrition Blog

Should babies be weaned onto a vegan diet?

Posted on 17 November 2010 by Helen

Hello everyone,

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.
Helen  

 

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Diabetes in children

Posted on 12 November 2010 by Helen

Hi Everyone,

14th November every year is World Diabetes Day, a globally-celebrated event to increase awareness of diabetes. This date is chosen because it marks the birthday of Frederick Banting who co-discovered insulin with Charles Best in 1922.

Insulin is a hormone, produced in the pancreas, which in diabetes is either not produced in enough quantities or the body isn’t able to use properly. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, and insulin helps this glucose in the blood get into the cells of the body where it is converted into energy. In diabetes, sugar levels in the blood build up and this can cause all sorts of problems.

The most common type of diabetes in children is ‘Type 1 diabetes’ and this needs to be treated with daily insulin injections and a carefully controlled diet in order to bring blood glucose levels within a healthy range. This type of diabetes cannot be cured and the exact cause remains a mystery. Thankfully, diabetes in children is a relatively uncommon disease, but the overall incidence of diabetes amongst children is rising. In recent years there has been the emergence of children suffering from another form of diabetes known as ‘Type 2 diabetes’, which is associated with increased levels of obesity and unhealthy diets. This form of the disease can usually be treated with lifestyle changes, including a healthier diet and more exercise. 

Early warning symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include thirst, tiredness, weight loss, stomach aches and frequent urination. Diagnosis will be followed up with specialist care by specifically trained medical staff and a specialist dietitian. Diabetic children can eat exactly the same food as non-diabetics, but it is essential the diet is balanced and healthy, and particular care must be taken to balance the amounts of carbohydrate in the diet with the insulin injections the child receives. Exercise also plays an important role in all children with diabetes.

Of course, this isn’t the time or place to go into more details about the specific details of raising a child with diabetes, but if you’re interested in finding out more why not visit the following links:

http://www.diabetes.co.uk/children-and-diabetes.html
http://www.diabetes.co.uk/Keeping-your-kids-free-from-diabetes.html

Bye for now,

Helen

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When is it safe to introduce gluten into my baby’s diet?

Posted on 2 November 2010 by Helen

Hi!

I hope you are all having a good week.

For those of you that have already started weaning, and also for those of you that aren't at that stage yet but still interested in what it's all about, a topic that often comes up is 'when is it safe to introduce gluten into my baby's diet?'

So what is gluten and why do people worry about it? Gluten is a protein found in some cereals, namely wheat, rye and barley, and it can cause an autoimmune disease called 'Coeliac disease'. This disease affects about 1 in 100 of the population and tends to run in families, where there's a 1 in 10 chance that a new baby will develop the condition if a close relative already has coeliac disease. 

However, how you wean your baby isn't influenced by whether there's a family history of coeliac disease or not. If you start weaning between 4- 6 months, the current recommendation is that you should avoid giving gluten-containing foods until your baby has reached 6 months. Manufactured baby foods will tell you on the label if the product is gluten free. From 6 months, all babies should be introduced to some gluten-containing foods, including wheat based foods like pasta, bread, cereals.  There are no benefits in delaying the introduction of gluten beyond 6 months for any babies.

At the risk of confusing you, it has been suggested recently however that introducing gluten between the age of 4-7 months while breastfeeding may actually reduce the risk of coeliac disease, type 1 diabetes and wheat allergy, so the recommendations on gluten might change in the future, but don't worry about that for now!

If you want to know more about coeliac disease, visit the Coeliac UK website.

Goodbye till next week.

Helen

 

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Is a vegetarian diet safe for your baby?

Posted on 27 October 2010 by Helen

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Hello!

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:
http://www.vegsoc.org/info/VegSoc-Infant%20Diet.pdf

What are your thoughts on babies being given vegetarian diets?  Let me know.

Helen

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Babies with food intolerance

Posted on 18 October 2010 by Helen

 alt=Hi again!

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

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