I’ve been documenting our baby led weaning journey so far for our vegan baby. Although I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, I’m confident that she can eat a well-planned diet and grow up fit, healthy, and strong. We’ve been doing baby led weaning for about six months now, and we all think it is great.
In this post about our bouncing vegan baby, I’ll be talking about the expert advice on raising vegan children; our choices regarding our daughter’s diet and nutrition; and my own diet and nutrition as a vegan of 20 years.
What does expert advice say about raising vegan children?
Information sources I read when researching vegan and vegetarian children came from:
- The NHS
- The British Dietetic Assocation
- The Vegan Society
- First Steps Nutrition Trust
- Charlotte Stirling Reed, a baby and child nutritionist
NHS advice states that it is possible to raise healthy children as vegan and vegetarian:
Babies and young children on a vegetarian or vegan diet can get the energy and most of the nutrients they need to grow and develop from a well-planned, varied and balanced diet.
Your baby might also need specific supplements in addition to the usual vitamin supplements recommended for all babies. Babies who have a vegan diet or a vegetarian diet that doesn’t include dairy or eggs, need a supplement containing vitamin B12, or foods with fortified B12.
Charlotte Stirling Reed states that the vitamins and minerals that may be compromised within a vegan diet for children include:
- Vitamins A, C, and vitamin D2
- Vitamin B12
Our vegan baby daughter’s diet
Our vegan baby daughter is still breastfeeding on demand, which means she is able to access vitamins and minerals including calcium, protein, iodine and some omega oils via my breastmilk. We have focused on including the following foods within her daily and weekly diet:
- Iron foods, including lentils, tofu, spinach, beans and lentils. We commonly pair these with foods rich in vitamin C, such as peppers, tomatoes, and citrus fruits, as this has been shown to increase iron absorption.
- Calcium foods, including tofu, beans, peas, lentils, almonds, tahini, spinach, broccoli, and tap water, as we live in a hard water area.
- Soya milk, fortified specifically for young children
- A range of fresh and cooked fruits and vegetables, and grains, to promote her tolerance of a range of foods, tastes and textures. This will mean she is able to obtain a greater range of vitamins and minerals from her diet.
- Omega rich foods, including hemp oil and pumpkin seeds.
- Protein foods, including beans, lentils, chickpeas, soya milk, and tofu. We offer these to our daughter plain, as individual ingredients, and cooked into dishes such as chilli and curry.
- Fats, as vegetarian and vegan children have been shown to eat less fat at than their non-vegetarian and vegan peers. This includes rapeseed, olive, hemp, and toasted sesame oils added whilst cooking or as a dressing; avocado; and nuts and seeds by themselves or as a part of a meal.
Supplementation for our vegan baby daughter
Currently, our daughter takes the following daily supplements:
- NHS healthy start vitamins, containing vitamins A, C, and D.
- Omega 3 oils. We currently use this supplement by Apokra, as it contains DHA, which can be very difficult to get on a vegan diet. Our daughter thinks it is delicious, which definitely helps!
I try my hardest to eat a healthy and balanced diet to support our vegan baby daughter, while pregnant and then when our vegan baby daughter was born and breastfeeding. I have been vegan for 20 years, and the easiest ways I have found to eat a balanced and healthy diet include:
- eating a fruit or vegetable at every meal;
- eating a range of carbohydrates;
- adding seeds and hemp oils to food wherever possible;
- eating nuts every day;
- eating protein at every meal;
- adding additional oils to food wherever possible;
- drinking tapwater, which is hard water where I love, and high in calcium (approx 120mg per litre).
I took a pre-pregnancy multivitamin before we conceived our daughter, and then pregnancy multivitamin whilst pregnant. These multivitamins has pregnancy-safe levels of a number of key nutrients. I had my blood tested whilst pregnant, and my levels of key nutrients came up as perfect. The midwife commented this was unusual, as most pregnant people are deficient in something! So, I definitely believe that taking the multivitamin was worth it, even though it was relatively expensive.
Currently, I take the following daily supplements:
- a general multivitamin
- calcium (as calcium citrate, as calcium carbonate upsets my stomach)
- iodine, which are then shared with my daughter via breastmilk
- omega oils, currently either from Feel or Together health.
Overall, we see our knowledge and skills in raising our vegan baby daughter as a work in progress. We also think we could always be doing better!
How did you / are you thinking about diet and nutrition for your bouncing baby or child?
Interested in knowing more about the approach we are taking to starting solid foods with our daughter? There’s more information about our approach in my previous posts:
- Ready, steady, go! Starting solid foods with our daughter
- Starting solid foods with our daughter: The first 3 weeks
- Starting solid foods: Weeks 4 to 6
- Starting solid foods: Weeks 7 to 9
- Starting solid foods: Weeks 10 to 12
- Starting solid foods: Menu from week 13
- Starting solid foods: Weeks 14 and 15
- Starting solid foods: Weeks 16 and 17
- Starting solid foods: Weeks 18 and 19
- Starting solid foods: Weeks 20 and 21