I have a vegan baby.
So that means that I’ve collected some information about vegan babies recently.
Guess I should be polite and share…
Before the baby comes, you can have a vegan baby shower. VegNews just published an article with suggestions:
“If you’re aiming for elegance, try hosting an afternoon tea. Cucumber finger sandwiches are an easy and refreshing way to provide some lightness to a meal. If you’re looking for something a little more substantial, try the white bean bruschetta or California sushi rolls. Orange sugar cookies, pear and fig tarts or vanilla cupcakes with chocolate glaze are all sure to satisfy maternity cravings, and those of your guests as well.”
When baby arrives, it’s VERY simple. For the first six months, babies should be fed exclusively breast milk. Everyone who knows anything about babies will agree that breast is best. But the ADA recommends vitamin D supplements for breastfed babies of vegan mothers.
But if breast milk is not an option the experts say to “use iron-fortified formula (soy for vegans).” So, since we are adopting and I am not breastfeeding, we chose a soy formula. Vegan Health says this about soy infant formulas:
As of June 2007*, the following brands were vegan except for the vitamin D3:
- Bright Beginnings Soy Pediatric Drink – vitamin D synthesized from animal cholesterol.
- Enfamil ProSobee LIPIL and Enfagrow Soy Next Step – vitamin D from lanolin; DHA from microalgae; ARA from fungi.
- Parent’s Choice Soy Infant Formula sold only at WalMart – vitamin D from lanolin.
- Baby’s Only Organic Soy Formula – vitamin D from lanolin.
- Ross Labs Similac Isomil – vitamin D from lanolin.
- Nestle Good Start Supreme Soy DHA DHA & ARA and Good Start 2 Supreme Soy DHA & ARA – vitamin D from lanolin.
Click here for thoughts on the subject of trying to be 100% vegan.
As baby grows, he or she will need different food.The ADA continues for older babies: “Since breast milk is such a rich source of nutrients, vegan mothers may want to breast feed for more than one year. Wean vegan infants with soymilk fortified with calcium and vitamins B12 and D. For toddlers, rice milk should not be used as a primary drink because it is low in both protein and energy.”
The Vegetarian Resource Group agrees:
“Certainly it makes sense for vegans to continue breast feeding for a year or longer, if possible, because breast milk is a rich source of nutrients. Vegan infants should be weaned to a fortified soy milk containing calcium, vitamin B-12, and vitamin D. Low-fat or non-fat soy milks should not be used before age 2. Rice milks are not recommended as a primary beverage for infants and toddlers as they are quite low in protein and energy.”
The ADA also makes these specific recommendations for vegan toddlers:
- Vegans, both breast feeding moms and children, need a good source of B12. Options include a supplement or fortified foods like soy or rice beverages, cereals and meat substitutes.
- At least one quart per day of fortified soy milk in order to obtain adequate vitamin D.
- For vegan toddlers, calcium-fortified foods and beverages or supplements may be necessary.
- Babies are born with enough iron for four to six months. After this age, vegetarian and vegan infants need an outside source. Options include iron-fortified cereals or supplements.
- Protein needs can be met with breast milk or formula until about 8 months. After that, add plant proteins from beans and cereals and fortified soy milks.
- Lots of fiber can fill toddlers up quickly. Provide frequent meals and snacks. Use some refined grains, such as fortified cereals, breads and pasta, and higher-fat plant foods like sunflower butter and avocados to help vegan children meet their energy and nutrient needs.
For more information about infant and toddler nutrition, please visit these websites:
* As of July 26, 2011: The names of some formulas have changed since 2007. For example, Similac Isomil is now known as Similac Sensitive Isomil Soy Formula and Enfamil ProSobee LIPIL is now just Enfamil ProSobee. Nestle Good Start Supreme Soy is now Gerber Good Start Soy Plus.
UPDATE August 25, 2011: My son is now a toddler and no longer a baby. He is still eating a vegan diet and doing great. His growth has been exactly on target and he’s developmentally on-track. After age 1 we weaned him from the soy formula and switched to a fortified unsweetened fullfat soymilk. He loves it and enjoys all his other tasty vegan foods, too. His favorites are beans, pea soup, pasta, peanut-butter on crackers, applesauce, and strawberries.
PS – Here is another article about raising vegan children: http://www.peta.org/living/parenting/raising-a-vegan-baby-the-first-year.aspx