Dietary guidelines for infancy (birth to age 12 months) suggest all children spend most of infancy on a vegetarian, if not vegan diet, as meat is the last food group to be introduced.

Breastfeeding is the recommended feeding method for infants. Assuming nutrient intake is adequate, the milk produced by vegan mothers is nutritionally comparable to non-vegetarian mothers. Breastfeeding rates among vegetarians are much higher than in the general population; breastfeeding rates above 95% in a vegan population have been reported. In the US, 39% of infants in the general population are still being breastfed at age 6 months while studies examining vegan children showed most were breastfed well into the second year of life. Breastfed infants of well-nourished vegetarian mothers grow and develop normally.

Current research indicates that only newly absorbed (as opposed to the mother's reserves) vitamin B12 is passed through the breast milk. Reliable daily sources of vitamin B12 for nursing mothers are fortified meat analogs, fortified cereals, and fortified soymilk. Vegetarian Support Formula nutritional yeast or a supplement must be maintained throughout the nursing period.

Vegan infants who are not breastfed should receive soy-based infant formula until at least the first birthday. Soy or other "milks" are not suitable substitutes for infant formula. Soy infant formulas support normal growth in infants.

Solid foods should be added to the diet in accordance with accepted infant feeding guidelines, which generally suggest starting solids during the middle of the first year of life. Usually iron fortified infant cereal is the first food introduced, followed by vegetables, fruits and then protein foods. Individual food items should be introduced gradually and in small amounts. Parents should proceed with caution when introducing solid foods to the infants diet. Commonly identified vegan food allergens are wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, and soybeans. Refer to pediatric guidelines for the introduction of known food allergens, particularly if a family allergy history exists.

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Thank you for posting this.

I have decided to raise my son vegan. He is 6 months old now. I plan to breastfeed as long as we can make it. I have also introduced some iron fortified oat cereal, fruits, and vegetables to his diet. I have an awesome baby food processor (The Baby Bullet) that I use to puree his foods -- no jarred foods with unnecessary ingredients for him! During my extended maternity leave, I am testing lots of new fun, delicious, and nutritious kid-friendly vegan recipes so I can be prepared for when he finally begins to eat normal solid meals. I'm sure the food I already cook will be fine, but I want age appropriate recipes so I can eventually involve him in the cooking process and (hopefully) teach him a few things. :)

Just yesterday, a health and nutritional counselor for breastfeeding mothers suggested that I try adding meat to his diet. I was horrified! The pediatrician I see has already approved of our vegan diet. I don't know what that counselor was thinking.

The article link is so helpful, as I plan to print anything from reputable sources that praise vegan diets for all stages of life. I need such information to show those family members that are still highly doubtful and unsupportive of what I am doing.

Thank you.

You're welcome. Hope this information help you raising your son.

This is wonderful information Xiao, noticed a lot of mothers lately asking about their children's diets, so very important!

yes, such information like this is very important for vegetarian/vegan mothers who want to raise their children vegetarian/vegan.

:) xoxo This place is a gold mine thanks to you Xiao!

My now 9 month daughter is being raised vegan and is extremely healthy, happy, and smart as a whip. She loves to eat foods. Veggies, fruits, grains, and mock meats. Her first and favorite moch meat is vegan riblets. She has tried almost everything. She is breastfed but also enjoys natural juice and Almond Breeze vanilla almond milk.
Great article. Nice seeing there are supporters of the vegan diet for infants. Keep up the awesome work!

How interesting that baby likes the almond breeze, I will try it with my 7 month old. Any thoughts on the sources of omega 3, for brain development? My partner is pescetarian and is concerned that baby should eat fish for this reason, but surely there must be other sources?

You could try to get baby to have spirulina, as far as I know the best source,but it's not easy to disguise. Mine will quite happily eat Green mashed potato with it. Otherwise oils from seeds or ground seeds themselves that you can mix into many baby foods.

Is Spirulina an omega 3 source? Yes, the seed route is a good one - need to give more thought here. Advice welcomed. Now he's over 1 year old and going strong on almond breeze and soya milk - preferably the sweetened variety - some brands sweeten with fruit juice and most are calcium fortified too, so I am not too concerned about this), also he actually likes toasted sandwiches with seeds in the bread. The pressure for fish as an omega 3 source has thankfully abated now though.

Spirulina is where the fish get their omega from as they don't have it naturally either. Algae is the only vegan source (99% sure) that contains all the omegas needed. While some are in seeds there is something about the body not being able to easily convert them but in spirulina it's all readily available. Sorry, it's a while since I read up about it.

My pediatrician suggested we could start giving my 6 month old meats now but I really don't want to.. He is breast fed and eats veggies and fruits as well as infant cereal, can I feed him puréed tofu instead or what do you suggest?

Definitely. Veggies, fruit, pulses, tofu... You can make very realistic fake scrambled egg with tofu, a little kala namak and turmeric (see The Non Dairy Formulary). No need for meat but health "professionals" don't seem to know that.


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