Is it true that my baby can be a vegetarian? Know all the necessary nutrients and everything there is to know so that the little one does not lack anything.
The feeding of children is a very controversial issue that brings all kinds of criticism and opinions, parents who already opt for a diet without protein of animal origin have no problem and teach their children to follow in the same footsteps as other parents Instead they decide to change their diet when their baby arrives in the world and it is here that the doubts about how to do it and from what moment begin.
Vegetarian or vegan food in its strictest sense has always existed, many cultures have survived by consuming only foods of plant origin and in no case have these children suffered from malnutrition or their development has been impaired.
Westerners are used to surviving thanks to the meat that animals such as cows, rabbits, and pigs provide us, but following a diet that includes animal proteins does not guarantee that we will develop good and better health.
As for parents who want to offer their little ones only plant foods, including vegetables, fruits, cereals and legumes, it should be considered as an equally respectable option, always ensuring that the baby grows healthy and properly.
Ideally, parents should learn how to feed their children without offering them foods of animal origin, although at the beginning when babies can start eating solids at approximately six months the first thing they try are vegetables and herbs. Fruits, a way of confirming that vegetarian food is also suitable for humans.
Breast milk is essential for the development of the baby
As we have mentioned on several occasions, breast milk is the best and most complete food for the newborn for at least up to six months and can be extended to years if the mother wants it.
Maintaining the consumption of breast milk in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian babies provides everything necessary for their development and optimal growth, even if other foods have already been introduced, milk will not cease to be their main source of nutrients.
If you have decided that your baby grows and develops with a vegetarian diet free of foods of animal origin, always consult your pediatrician, or a nutritionist for guidance and advice, so you will not neglect any detail of your child’s diet.
What do you have to keep in mind?
We must bear in mind that the British Medical Association advises following a vegetarian diet, as a way to provide all those essential nutrients necessary for child growth. Of course, for this to be effectively the case, it is very important that it meets the nutritional requirements of the baby, since it needs proteins, calcium, vitamins…
As we have mentioned, until at least 4 or 5 months it is essential that the baby drinks breast milk or adapted milk. Then this should also become the most important source of their nutrition, so that at this stage a single solid intake should suffice.
Thus, it is especially useful to include shredded vegetables, shredded fruits, cornmeal, and millet or baby rice.
Then, after 6 months, a good option is to try adding crushed legumes (such as lentils), with a little extra virgin olive oil. In addition, it is very important to add a greater variety of vegetables and fruits.
With this, after 7 months it is an interesting option to start introducing cereals that contain gluten, such as oats or wheat, either in the form of porridges, purees and bread.
In any case, we see that the baby gets enough iron, calcium, protein, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. And how to get it? Very simple, adding the following foods:
- Iron: lentils, cereals, beans, green vegetables, apricots and prune juice.
- Calcium: especially breast milk or adapted milk. Also, goat’s milk, fortified plant milks, cheese, yogurt, green vegetables, lentils, beans, tofu, sesame paste and well-ground almonds.
- Proteins: breast milk stands out during the first months. It can then be completed with lentils, whole grains, beans, goat’s milk, and nuts.
- Vitamin D: we find it especially in some breakfast cereals, in enriched foods such as margarine, eggs and dairy products.
- Vitamin B12: we find it in breast milk or adapted, and later in eggs and dairy products. However, vegan babies need vitamin B12 from foods fortified with it.