Vegan and Vegetarian Eating and Babies

Vegan and Vegetarian Eating and Babies

Print Vegetarian Eating and Babies

Vegan Eating

If your family is choosing to follow a Vegan eating style special attention needs to be taken with key nutrients to support your baby's growth and development.

There is not enough evidence to say if a vegan diet is safe or unsafe during pregnancy, breastfeeding and for babies and children. What we do know is that the nutrition needs are very high during these times. To meet those needs you will need to carefully plan your child’s diet and take certain nutrition supplements. If nutrition needs are not met over time, these deficiencies can lead to serious health problems. This can affect a child for life. Choosing a vegan diet during these times is an important decision. Discuss this with your doctor, child health nurse or Accredited Practising Dietitian so that you can get the help you need.

For information on Vegan eating for babies and children under two

First foods for babies when vegetarian

Breastfeeding is the normal way to feed a baby. Breast milk or a commercial infant formula will give your baby all their nutrition until around six months. Breastfeeding (or infant formula) is baby's main food until they are around 12 months old. Start solid food at around six months but not before four months. Look for signs of readiness

Offer a variety of foods from the five food groups

Food group

Examples

Grain (cereal) foodsBaby cereals with added iron. Choose mostly white varieties.
Vegetables and legumesPuree or mash cooked vegetables and legumes like kidney beans, white beans and lentils together.
FruitPuree or mashed cooked fruit and soft fresh fruit. Cook all hard fruit until soft for babies like apple and pear.

Tofu, nuts (ground up or pastes eg walnut, almond), seeds (sesame, hemp, flaxseed) and legumes

Eggs if vegetarian

Offer everyday for a source of iron.
Full fat dairy, soy yoghurt and cheese, plant -based milks like rice, oat and nutChoose type with added calcium and vitamin B12 (soy and cereal milks).
Use in cooking and on cereal.

Milk for babies and toddlers

  • Breastfeed for as long as you and your baby wish, up to two years if possible.
  • Infant formula is not needed after 12 months unless Vegan*. If your baby is having a mix of vegetarian foods they can start to have full cream dairy milk or soy and cereal milks with added calcium and vitamin B12.

*Vegan milk substitutes

For babies and toddlers having vegan foods who are not being breastfed or having only some breastfeeds, a commercial soy infant formula is recommended as a milk substitute for up to two years. Use a cup not a feeding bottle from 12 months of age.

Growth checks

All babies and young children should have their growth and development checked by a child health nurse or GP regularly.

Want to know more

For First Foods Vegetarian Recipes

Ask your GP or child health nurse.