Authored by Kate Beswick in Parenting
Published on 10-14-2009
Vegetarian parents, just like most other parents, become very excited when they first hear that they are expecting a new baby. But this excitement can quickly be overshadowed by the nervousness that vegetarian parents may feel when they consider feeding their child. Of course, raising a vegetarian baby does have its own issues. But these issues are not so big that parents should feel as though it’s impossible. Raising a vegetarian baby doesn’t have to be that much different than raising a baby that eats meat. Simply cut out the meat from baby’s diet and replace it with other high sources of protein. Baby will grow up to be happy, healthy, and vegetarian!
During the first year of life, breast milk is best for any baby. Parents who are trying to raise a vegetarian baby should try their best to breastfeed. Not only is this the healthiest source of nutrition for any baby, but vegetarian babies really won’t be ingesting any meat from this. This is because the mother of the child most likely doesn’t eat meat herself. And so, no meat products will be passed on to the baby.
But the truth is some babies have trouble breastfeeding. And some have trouble to the point that the baby can’t breastfeed at all. If that’s the case, there are plenty of soy formulas that are available for babies. Whether or not these formulas are actually healthier for a baby than formula made from cow’s milk is debatable. But your baby can get the same nutrients from soy formula without you worrying about baby ingesting meat products.
When it’s time to start baby on solid foods, you can puree your own or buy store-bought baby food. The fruit and vegetables baby food that stores sell generally don’t contain meat products. However, they do have plenty of additives and sugars that baby doesn’t need. Because of this, pureeing baby food is a great alternative. You also need to make sure that your baby is getting all of the iron and protein that they need. Because of this, baby will need to eat things such as beans, lentils, cottage cheese, and food that provide other sources of protein. Making the food yourself is a great way to combine some of these ingredients and make sure that baby is getting a healthy meal.
Because meat is a good source of iron, many parents of vegetarian babies think that they must give their babies iron supplements. However, it can be quite dangerous to give iron supplements to any baby that’s younger than three months old. This is because babies are born with large amounts of iron already in their systems. They have so much in fact, that this amount is usually enough to last three months. After this time if you’re still concerned about your baby’s iron needs, you should speak with your doctor about introducing a supplement at that time. However, because babies can be breastfed for up to two years of age, an iron supplement will most likely not be needed even after three months.
Raising a vegetarian baby can be a great way to introduce your baby to the healthy and humane lifestyle that you have chosen for yourself. Raising a vegetarian baby does come with its own issues and challenges. But by simply making the right choices, and staying dedicated to vegetarianism, it can be done very easily.