Weaning Your Vegetarian Or Vegan Baby
Weaning your vegetarian baby starts at the same time and in the same way as a baby being offered a meat/fish diet. All babies should start with soft finger foods such as well cooked carrot sticks that can be squashed between your fingers and a wide range of tastes and textures. Most first foods at 6 months will fall into the vegetarian category and you can access suitable recipes here to get you started.
*Click here* for some recipe and meal ideas.
Continue to breastfeed your baby on demand or offer their first formula as a drink until they are 1 year. Plant based milks are not suitable for babies under 12 months. *Click here* for guidance on drinks to avoid.
From 7-12 months your baby will become more confident in eating and will be having a wider range of foods. They will very likely be eating what you do as parents and sitting with you at mealtimes with their highchair at the table. Vegetarian diets can contain a lot of vegetables that are high in fibre and are very filling. This can mean your baby may feel full before they have had enough nutrients from a meal. As they grow toward 12 months they will increase their food intake and naturally decrease their milk intake so it is important to ensure they are getting enough nutrients from what they are eating every day. Higher calorie foods can help your baby to get enough fats and calories. *Click here* to find out more.
If you have any worries or questions about your baby's diet or their growth please call Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 a member of our skilled team will be happy to help.
The Food Standards Agency does not recommend a vegan diet for babies and very young children because it can be difficult to provide them with enough energy and nutrients. But with careful planning and preparation it can be a healthy diet for your child.If you choose to wean your baby onto a Vegan diet you want to make sure they are receiving all the nutrients they need and we would advise you seek advice from your GP or Health Visitor before you begin weaning.It is very important that your baby's diet contains sufficient amounts of -
Iron: Iron-rich foods include pureed apricots, leafy dark green vegetables, lentils and cereals. Avoid cereals that are very high in fibre, as too much fibre can prevent the iron from being absorbed.
Protein: Breastmilk or formula will provide all the protein your baby needs at first. After 8 months they will need more protein. Two servings of split pulses (red lentils/split peas/chick peas), tofu or soya products daily will help give your baby enough protein.
Vitamin D: This vitamin is essential for healthy bones. All babies on a vegan diet would benefit from a supplement, so speak to your GP before you start weaning your baby.
Vitamin B12: Your vegan baby can get B12, which helps develop the nervous system, from fortified foods such as cereals, low-salt yeast extract and soya formula. Always seek advice from your health visitor before giving your baby soya formula.
Who Can Help?
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum.