07 Aug How To Raise Vegan Baby: 7 Tips From a Dietitian
Vegan diets for babies and children can be very healthy – you just need to make sure they are getting the right nutrients and explore supplement options. We speak to a dietitian.
In the seven years that I have been vegan, I have lived my healthiest life yet. But when I had a baby, I knew I wanted to be sure that he was eating a healthy diet and getting everything he needs for his little growing brain and body.
So, when he turned one, I booked him in to see a dietitian. We covered everything from breastfeeding to supplements, iron, protein, Vitamin D and beyond. Based on our appointments, here are my top 7 healthy diet tips for babies and toddlers:
1. Whole-Foods Plant-Based Diet
A healthy, whole-foods plant-based diet is the basis of good nutrition. That’s a variety of nutrient-dense, minimally-processed foods, with a good amount of plant protein (beans, legumes, chia seeds, nuts and seeds, quinoa), wholegrain carbs, vegetables and fruits, plus a little fat. If you do this, you’ll need to worry less about the rest.
2. Algal Oil (DHA)
Walnuts and flax meal help a little, but the bioavailability of DHA from these sources is limited. So, it is best to supplement Omegas from algae for your vegan baby’s DHA needs. You can get this from amazing fortified products such as Naked Planet yoghurts. This is a Melbourne-based vegan family business. They have 4 super tasty baby-friendly flavours, and the Omega 3 element is super unique. Alternatively, you can squeeze a vegan DHA caplet into morning porridge and mix it in.
3. Vitamin D Drops
These are recommended for most babies as so many get deficient in Vitamin D. One drop a day in their food will do the job. I put a drop in his morning oatmeal, serving up just a small portion to start with to make sure he eats it all. Then I top him up with more porridge (without supplements).
4. Sources of Iron
This nutrient is an important consideration for a little growing body. And great sources of iron include chickpeas and spinach. Try to feed these to my baby in the same meal with other Vitamin C sources to boost the bioavailability.
5. Extended Breastfeeding
A mother’s breastmilk gives her baby the nutrients they need. The nipple detects what baby is lacking from their backwash, then the breast uses nutrients from the body to formulate milk accordingly. Breastmilk continues to support baby’s nutrition needs even after weaning onto solids, but it takes a lot out of the mother. So, I drinks lots of water and eat heaps of nutritious food.
I have also been taking Goli vegan gummies to boost my Vitamin B12 and overall health: Goli Supergreens, Apple Cider Vinegar, Superfruits and Ashwagandha. You can try these gelatin-free jellies with 10% off using code DENI at https://go.goli.com/deni.
6. Complete Proteins
A great way to ensure your baby is getting a complete amino acid (protein) profile is by incorporating quinoa, tofu, edamame, and beans & rice into their diet. These are complete proteins and provide all the tools and building blocks for human growth. I like to give Zak cubes of tofu and soft steamed broccoli to snack on – he loves the texture!
7. Vitamin B12 and Calcium
These are very important for babies and toddlers. Therefore, Zak has Oat milk fortified with B12 and Calcium (plus Vitamins B2 and D) while he is at daycare. He has this in his cereal and sippy cup throughout the day. Our dietitian recommends two portions of fortified plant milk that contains B12 and Calcium each day, though I can’t be sure exactly how much he is having.
I hope this article has been helpful for those wondering about healthy vegan babies, toddlers and children. It is possible!