For approximately the first seven months, the diet of a vegan baby is much the same as that of a baby from an omnivore family.
For the first four to six months, babies don’t need anything other than breast milk.
Or, if breast milk isn’t available, an infant formula.
In the case of a vegan baby, they would need a soy infant formula.
Between the ages of four to six months, babies are ready for solids.
Your health care professional will be able to help you decide when your baby is ready.
The first recommended solid food for infants, whether vegan or not, is an iron fortified rice cereal.
Which is mixed with either breast milk or infant formula.
Rice cereal is easily digested and unlikely to cause allergy problems.
Once your baby is used to eating the rice cereal and is having around 1/3 cup a day, it is time to begin introducing mashed and pureed fruit and vegetables.
You can begin with things like banana, applesauce, peaches and pears.
Also strained white and sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans and avocado.
You should only introduce one food at a time, every three to four days, so it is easy to identify any food allergies.
At around seven months, your baby will be ready to drink apple juice from a cup.
It is also time to start introducing protein rich foods.
It is at this stage, that the diet of a vegan baby starts to differ from that of a non vegan baby.
The first protein rich foods for vegan babies includes thoroughly cooked and pureed legumes, well mashed tofu and soy yoghurt.
You can also start introducing vegetables with stronger flavors such as kale and collards.
A great way to do this is by mixing them with bland or sweet foods such as avocado, tofu and apple sauce.
At around ten months infants are ready for finger foods such as little pieces of tofu, meat analogs, bread and crackers.
By twelve months, your vegan infant will be able to have nut butters or tahini spread thinly on crackers.
During this time of introducing solids, breast milk and or soy infant formula are still a very important part of your baby’s diet.
And should be part of the menu until at least their first birthday.
Breast milk or soy infant formula are especially important for providing your baby with zinc.
Zinc can otherwise be low in a vegan baby’s diet.
Regular soy milk should not be offered to babies before the age of twelve months, as it doesn’t contain the nutrients required by a young baby.
The same thing applies to rice, hemp and almond milks.
It’s also very important that you discuss your growing baby’s needs with your health care professional, to ensure you are on the right track.
Plus your baby may also need some supplements.
Vitamin D is often recommended for breast fed babies in both vegan and non vegan families.
Iron is sometimes recommended from around four months onwards, but that will depend on the foods in your baby’s diet.
Some vegan babies may also need a vitamin B12 supplement, if their mother’s diet isn’t adequate.
Some people do feel nervous about the idea of raising a vegan baby, however it is really no different than raising a baby on any sort of diet.
You just need to make sure that their nutritional needs are met.