Can you sucessfully wean your baby on a plant-based diet? We have some Vegetarian or vegan weaning tips for you to try
Whether you are an ethical vegetarian or vegan, want to eat a little less meat or you or your baby have allergies that mean you have to avoid dairy, you may wonder if you can bring your child up healthily. We look at bringing up baby on a plant-based diet.
Up to six months
Up to six months, your baby gets all the nutrients they need from your breast milk.
“The first spoonfuls are to get your baby used to the taste,” say Juliet Gellatley and
Rose Elliot in their booklet, Vegetarian and Vegan Mother and Baby Guide by Viva! “Do not think of them as a real source of nourishment at this stage. The baby still needs milk feeds and the emotional satisfaction of sucking.”
Fruit And Vegetables
Try the following for first purees for your little one.
- Spinach: wash thoroughly, remove stems and shred leaves. Cook in a saucepan with water until tender. Puree.
- Dried apricots, prunes, pears, peaches, apples: wash, then cover with boiling water and soak overnight. Next day, simmer until tender. Puree.
- Date puree: put 225g dates in a pan with half a cup of water and heat gently until mushy. Mash to a thick puree.
- Baby rice cereal: choose one fortified with iron and B vitamins and make with breast milk to pack instructions.
- Corn, peas, green beans: boil until tender and puree. Fresh and frozen are fine; canned are not advised.
Six to eight months:
As your baby gets used to simple flavours, you can begin to add protein to their food. Many parents worry that their children will not get enough protein on a plant-based diet but it’s easy and simple with a little planning.
“You can now begin to enrich the simple fruit and vegetable purees with vegetarian protein,” say Gellatley and Elliot. “Orange lentils made into a soup make a wonderfully nutritious meal. Beans such as soya, red kidney, cannellini or butter beans can be cooked and mashed to a puree. Use home cooked or canned ones (rinse canned to remove salted water). Don’t give canned beans to a baby under eight months. Tofu can be mashed thoroughly, then mixed with vegetables or fruit purees. Soya yoghurt can be added to fruit purees or mashed with banana,” they recommend.
What about the vitamins?
“Vegetarians and vegans get plenty of vitamin A from foods containing beta-carotene; carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, apricots and pumpkin. You’ll find high amounts of vitamin C in kiwi fruit, berries and currants, oranges, broccoli and other fruit and vegetables,” advise Gellatley and Elliot. “Many B vitamins are involved in releasing energy from food and are widely available in wholegrains. Vitamin D is metabloised from sunlight and found in cereals, soya milk and vegetable margarines.”