Congratulations! You've adopted a vegan lifestyle and now you're about to welcome a healthy, happy vegan baby into your home. You've already done the research on how to balance your own diet, but how can you make sure your vegan baby has a balanced, nutritious diet? It's really not that hard.
One of the first keys to raising a vegan baby is being committed to breastfeeding, or finding a milk bank with breast milk from another vegan mother. Currently, there is no fully vegan baby formula. All of the soy formulas on the market are enriched with vitamin D derived from an animal source. Traditional cow's milk formulas are not a choice for obvious reasons. So, you should plan to breastfeed or provide breast milk for your vegan baby for at least the first year of his or her life. You may choose to continue to breastfeed until your vegan baby is two years old or you can simply move on to a complete solid food diet at one year of age.
When you are breastfeeding, you must remember that your vegan baby is depending on you for all the nutrients and vitamins he or she needs. You should continue to eat a well balanced, healthy vegan diet with emphasis on proteins, heart-healthy fats and vitamins. In particular, vitamin B12 and vitamin D are very important to a growing baby, so you need to be sure to get enough in your own diet. Vitamin B12 is more difficult to obtain from plant-based sources, so a supplement may be helpful to ensure you are passing enough on to your child. Many non-dairy fortified beverages are a good source of vitamin D; so drink up and spend a little time in the sun to ensure you're passing on enough vitamin D to your vegan baby.
While you should breastfeed for a full year, you can start introducing solid foods around 4 to 5 months of age. Good choices to start with include rice based products, bananas, pears, apples, carrots, potatoes and spinach. When your vegan baby reaches 6 months of age, you can be introducing wheat and oat based cereals. At 7 to 8 months, you can begin to introduce tofu and other soft soy-based products. After your vegan baby is a year old, you can start introducing nut-based products, as long as there is no family history of nut allergies. If there is a family history of nut allergies, wait until your baby is 3 years old to introduce nut-based products.
With a growing number of commercially available vegan-friendly items, you don't have to worry about your baby missing out. When your baby begins teething, find some vegan cookies to let her chew on, as an alternative to the traditional Zwieback cookies. If you're a baker, you'll find plenty of recipes for vegan cookies online. And what about baby's first birthday cake? You can find both commercially available vegan cake mixes and recipes online.
Raising a vegan baby is a great way to instill good food habits early on. It also shows your child that you're serious about making our planet healthier. The most difficulties you will likely face are comments from people who don't understand, but just stand your ground and know that you are making a healthy decision for your baby, your family and our world.