With a whopping 582,000 people signing up for Veganuary in 2021, I think it is safe to say that vegan diet's are becoming increasingly popular.
But for most parent's looking to start this journey the main question often is;
Is weaning my baby vegan, safe?
The short answer is ABSOLUTELY!
A well-planned vegan diet for both adults and children is perfectly healthy. However it is important to make sure you are replacing any of the key nutrients they would get from the likes of meat or dairy products.
What is a vegan diet?
A vegan diet is when a person eliminates all animal products from their diet. This includes dairy, meat, eggs and honey. There are variations to this diet that include some animal products for example; vegetarian (includes dairy), pescatarian (no meat but includes fish and dairy).
Whatever variation your child is following, it is important to ensure they are eating a balanced diet.
Nutrients to look out for
There are a few foods and nutrients that you should be aware of to ensure that your babies diet includes all the nutrients they need to grow and develop.
I briefly discussed some on my Facebook post.
It is recommended that all breastfed babies and formula fed infants when intake drops below 500ml per day should take a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D2 is the vegan form of this supplement.
Some supplements that are suitable for your vegan baby; Abidec, Dalivit, Nature and Nurture vitamin drops.
For breastfed babies drops can be placed on the nipple before feeds. With formula fed babies drops can be placed into the feeding bottle along with formula or dropped into the mouth before feeding.
This mineral is needed to regulate thyroid hormones which control many functions in the body including growth and development. Iodine can be transferred through breastmilk and mum may need to take a supplement or look out for fortified dairy free alternatives. Most breastfeeding multivitamins usually contain around 150ug of iodine however a breastfeeding mothers requirements are 200mcg per day. Therefore more will needs to be consumed either with an extra supplement or from fortified dairy free milk's (usually 22.5ug of iodine per 100ml). Not all dairy free milks are fortified with iodine so be sure to check the labels.
Stay tuned for a more in depth blog about iodine coming soon!
This mineral is needed for growth and development. The body uses iron to make haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. Iron is also required for the production of some hormones.
From around 6 months your baby's iron stores are depleted so dietary sources of iron are very important.
To help improve absorption, consuming a source of iron at every meal with a good source of vitamin C is recommended.
Iron-rich weaning foods
Vegan breakfast cereals
This water soluble vitamin which is needed for red blood cell formation and neurological function. It is found naturally in animal products. However a lot of dairy alternatives are fortified with Vitamin B12 for example; dairy free milks, nutritional yeast, some vegan cheese alternatives, and some spreads. Remember to always check the labels. From the ages of 6-12 months the RNI for infants is 0.4mcg per day.
Proteins are essential macronutrients used in the body as building blocks for body tissue. It is commonly found in animal products, although it can be found in other sources too. Most children exceed their daily protein requirements
A child's protein RNI per day aged;
4-6 months 12.7g
7-9 months 13.7g
10-12 months 14.9g
Protein rich weaning foods
Calcium is a mineral that is used by the body for building strong bones and teeth. It is also used for other vital roles in the body. Calcium occurs naturally in certain foods and can be added into certain products. Supplements are available if needed. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium in the body.
The RNI for children aged 6-12months is 525mg per day.
Calcium rich weaning foods
Plant based dairy alternatives
In summary weaning your baby onto a vegan diet is safe, easy and as long as you consider the key nutrients, nutritionally complete. If you feel you need any help or are concerned with weaning your baby vegan, please get in touch using the link below.