My baby is almost two and we are vegan. He eats a diet that is mostly vegan (some of his caregivers give him nonvegan foods and I have no control over that).
When your baby arrives, its VERY simple. For the first six months, babies should be fed exclusively breastmilk. 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
. And all mothers who breastfeed should take care to ensure that their baby eats enough. Many mothers do this by timing their breastfeeding sessions and keeping a record of how often and how long the baby nurses.
But if breastmilk is not an option (mother has a communicable disease, the baby is adopted, or other circumstance) then the experts say to use iron-fortified formula (soy for vegans). (source
) For my son, we chose a soy formula. He took to it just fine and grew exactly as expected (double birthweight by 6 months and triple birthweight by 1 year - source
). Regular doctor visits will check his/her growth and help identify any problems (birth defect, allergies, etc.). Any good parent will see a doctor often during the first year of their child's life.
As baby grows, he or she will need different food. The ADA says this 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. (source
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 my son, 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. He also eats plenty of other foods like tofu, pretzels, bread, soft steamed veggies, hummus, vegan cheese, etc.
For more information about infant and toddler nutrition, please visit these websites:http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=8060http://veganhealth.org/articles/preginfchilhttp://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.htm
PS Here is another article about raising vegan children: http://www.peta.org/living/parenting...irst-year.aspx