Vegan baby: how to ensure his normal development

Candid Talk with Nutritionist Brenda Davis

When it comes to vegan babies and toddlers, his every runny nose is scrutinized. Many people believe that children need animal products in order to grow and develop properly.

If a child is not well on a vegetarian diet, the GP, family and friends are quick to say, “I told you so.” If you are a vegan parent, the following tips will help you make sure your little one has all the prerequisites to be a healthy and happy child.

Make sure your baby is getting enough calories. Vegan diets are often low in fat. Although it is very beneficial for disease prevention, it may not promote optimal growth and development. It is not a fact that a vegan diet is not suitable for babies and toddlers. It simply means that when planning the nutrition of young children, growth and development should be the number one priority, and the caloric content of the diet should be high.

Provide three meals a day and snacks between meals.

Make sure your baby is getting enough fluids during meals (and between meals). Increase the calorie content where possible (for example, add sauces to vegetables, nut butter or avocado to smoothies, jam on bread, etc.).

Aim for 40 to 50 percent of your calories to come from fat.

It sounds strange, but remember, about 50 percent of the calories in breast milk are fat. Most of your fat should come from foods rich in monounsaturated fats like nut butters and avocados. It should also provide a sufficient amount of products containing essential fatty acids.

Excellent choices include:

Tofu is an ideal food for young children, rich in protein and fat, as well as other nutrients, but low in fiber. Use it in smoothies, sandwiches, soups, stews, breads, pies and desserts.

Full fat and fortified soy milk can be used as a beverage and in cooking. The goal is to give your baby at least 20 ounces of milk a day.

Nuts and seeds can cause choking in young children, so you can add nut butter to the cream. Nut and seed powder can be added to sauces and batters for pancakes and pastries.

Avocados are a storehouse of fats, calories and nutrients. Add them to salads, puddings and side dishes.

Limit your fiber intake.

Fiber fills the stomach and can reduce overall calorie intake. Avoid adding concentrated fiber sources such as wheat bran to your diet. Use refined grain flour to increase baby’s weight. Whole grains should be included in the diet to increase the intake of vitamins and minerals.

Give your baby a meal that contains at least 25 grams of protein per day.

Insufficient amounts of protein can jeopardize the development and growth of the baby. Soy milk (20 grams) will provide about 15 grams of protein. One slice of tofu contains up to 10 grams. Even a piece of bread contains 2 to 3 grams of protein. Thus, getting enough protein is not a problem if calorie intake is adequate.

Be aware of your baby’s iron and zinc needs. These nutrients are very important for growth and development. Iron deficiency is the most common problem in young children. Iron-rich grains, legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds, dried fruits are good choices for baby food. Lack of zinc can slow growth and lower immunity in children. Good sources of zinc are legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Don’t forget about vitamin B 12! We do not have reliable plant sources of vitamin B 12. Use supplements or fortified foods. A lack of vitamin B 12 can lead to muscle atrophy and brain damage.

Make sure your baby is getting enough calcium and vitamin D.

Calcium and vitamin D are essential for growing bones. Both of these nutrients are present in fortified foods. Other good sources of calcium are green vegetables, almonds, legumes, and rice.

Baby Shake Recipe: 1,5 cups strawberries 1 banana 1-2 teaspoons cocoa 2 teaspoons flaxseed oil 3-5 teaspoons nut butter (cashew or almond) 2-3 teaspoons orange juice or other fresh juice such as carrot 2 teaspoons fortified soy milk 1/8-1/4 avocado

Have your child sit on the stool next to you and have them help you toss the ingredients into the blender and press the button. Mix until smooth. Got two servings. Per Serving: 336 calories, 7g protein, 40g carbs, 19g fat.

For a toddler aged one to three years, a serving of this shake provides approximately:

100 percent of the daily value of magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids. More than 66 percent of the need for copper and potassium. More than 50 percent required pyridoxine and zinc. 42 percent protein. 25 percent of required calories and selenium. 20 percent of the required iron.  




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