Breastmilk is the best choice for your baby. The Department of Health and Children recommend exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months and to continue in combination with solid food up to 2 years and beyond. If not breastfeeding choose a suitable breastmilk substitute (formula milk). Cows’ milk, sheep’s milk and goat’s milk are not suitable alternatives as they do not contain the balance of nutrients your baby needs.
If your baby is a vegan, breastmilk is the very best milk you could choose. You should discuss with your GP the possibility of giving your baby a supplement of Vitamin B12. If you choose to bottlefeed your baby who is on a vegan diet, Soya formula milk is suitable.
Regardless of feeding method, all babies should receive a 5 micrograms vitamin D3 supplement
The Department of Health and Children recommend that all babies, regardless of feeding method, should receive a supplement containing 5 micrograms (µg) vitamin D3. You should ask your healthcare professional for advice on such a supplement.
Weaning your vegetarian baby
Latest national guidelines (FSAI, 2012) recommend introducing solid foods at around 6 months (26 weeks) but not before 17 weeks and no later than 6 months for all babies. The key is not before 4 months, as this may cause health problems for your baby, and no later than 6 months as your baby may be missing out on important nutrients from solid foods and may also become fussier when taking them.
Refer to the weaning section on this site for more detailed information on weaning foods and the various stages of weaning.
Importance of iron rich foods
Iron is very important for healthy blood and development of your baby’s brain. Your baby has a natural store of iron until 6 months of age and after this he relies on the iron he gets from his breastmilk/formula milk and weaning foods to meet his needs. As some of the richest sources of iron are meats and meat products it is important that you include iron-rich alternatives to these in your baby’s weaning diet.
Eggs are a good source of iron for your baby and suitable from 6 months. When your baby is that little bit older at around 8 months and is taking finger foods, scrambled eggs and toast can make a great nutritious meal!
Pureed lentils can also make a good iron-rich weaning food to begin the weaning process. Other sources of iron to include in your baby’s diet include dark green vegetables (brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli), beans, breakfast cereals which have added iron, and raisins and dried apricots.
Because the iron from non-meat foods is not as easily absorbed by the body you should try include foods containing vitamin C in your baby’s meals to help absorb this iron. For example you could blend a tin of chopped tomatoes (with no added salt or sugar) to make a tomato sauce to mix with your baby’s dinner or offer your baby some pureed fruit after dinner as dessert!
Have a look at our weaning recipe section for some ideas.
If you any any questions about your baby’s diet please contact the Careline.