Whether you make or buy plant-based baby food, it’s important to ensure you choose good food that is nutritionally adequate, and do your homework on how to make sure it’s safe. The horror stories you sometimes read about where vegan babies die from malnutrition, are nearly always when parents don’t get outside help, and end up feeding food that does not have proper nutrients.
Raising a plant-based baby is not extreme, it’s perfectly safe, if done right. But work with people in the know to ensure all nutritional bases are covered, whether you are breastfeeding, offering formula or weaning your child onto solid foods.
WHO recommends breast milk within the first hour of birth and up to 6 months minimum, ideally 1 year and up to 2 years, while weaning, to help prevent type-1 diabetes.
For weaning, avoid nuts, seed and nut/seed butters for young children. For choking hazards like carrot sticks or veggie hot dogs, cut lengthwise, then lengthwise again. Have babies sit up and supervised while eating slowing and avoid firm round foods (whole grapes) and large chunks, also avoid stringy foods like celery or string beans. Experts also say to avoid white commercial bread as it can turn to a large paste. Food should be cut into smaller pieces, if larger than one-inch any way.
Plant-Based Baby Formulas
Read the post on why breastfeeding is best. But if for whatever reason you are not able to breastfeed or choose not to, then it’s possible to find plant-based formula that is nutritionally sound. Else Nutrition offers organic plant-based toddler-nutrition formula with almonds, buckwheat and tapioca (if no allergies). Recommended by doctors for toddlers age 2 up (infant formula coming soon). Certified Kosher, see FAQ for info.
Sprout Organic (AU) is a children’s nutrition company, making FSANZ standard formulas and a junior plant-based shake. Working alongside food technologists and scientists to create wholesome and safe drinks, now you can feed your child with confidence (the range is approved by leading paediatricians and nutritionists. The range is organic to comply to Australian regulation regarding limits for heavy metals, although due to manufacturing, is not suitable for serious allergies to dairy.
Make Your Own Baby Food
The Big Book of Plant-Based Baby Food has 300 recipes includeing:
- Garden Veg & Lentil Mash
- Homemade Teething Biscuits
- Sweet Potato Fries
- Whole Wheat Mac n Cheese
- Strawberry Raspberry Muffins
Good Brands of Plant-Based Baby Food
Omami sends fresh organic baby food, all vegan and free of the major allergens. They must be kept in the fridge, and include a mix of vegetables, fruits, fats, seeds and legumes to expand a baby’s love for wholefoods. The company operates to strict food safety laws, and unlike big brand baby foods that kill off the good stuff with processing, their meals are fresh and certified organic. The company name is Arabic for ‘motherhood’ and also inspired by the Japanese word ‘umami’ describing tasty food.
The pots are made from ‘food-safe plastic’ (they can’t use glass with the cold pressure system used to make the food, but are interested in anyone who knows of alternatives – you can recycle all the packaging). The pots are not designed for microwaves (not good anyway for baby or pet food). If you want to warm them, just pop the pot in a bowl of hot water and stir until warm, or warm gently in a saucepan. They don’t use pouches as this can mean babies miss out on key oral development for swallowing solids (preferring babies to learn to eat with a spoon or fingers). They also believe babies should see real food, rather than just eat from ‘hidden food squeezed from a pouch’.
Mamamade offers 35 organic plant-based baby meals including blueberry banana lemon porridge, red pepper polenta fingers, broccoli red pepper & amaranth, mushroom black bean spinach and banana oat pancakes.
Amara Organic Foods (US) has been voted best plant-based baby food, and offers whole food meals using pressure protection technology that simply removes the water content from fresh foods, leaving the original nutrient, textures, smell and taste intact. Just add breast milk or water, mix and serve.
The Plant-Based Baby and Toddler
The Plant-Based Baby and Toddler offers easy-to-digest nutritional facts and guidelines that are not available elsewhere, with a special focus on the most important period of a child’s life, when it comes to developing good eating habits in infancy and toddlerhood. Whitney and Alex discuss:
the PB3 plate: a visual guide to structuring meals that are nutritionally balanced: one third fruits/veggies, one third legumes, nuts and seeds (not for young children) and one third grains and starches (easy to adapt to the whole family)
- How to meet needs for critical nutrients, such as iron
- A primer on traditional purees and the baby-led weaning/feeding approach
- How to deal with challenges, such as picky eaters
- Sorting fact from fiction on non-dairy milks and other substitutes
- 50+ plant-based recipes created specifically from first bites, to age 3.
As dietitians and mothers, Whitney and Alex pored over nutrition journals and called on experts, to learn how to provide their babies with the best diet possible. They found that plant-based diets are associated with a reduced risk of obesity, decreased cholesterol levels and increased fruit and vegetable intake. In short, safe for children and pretty awesome.
I love that Alex and Whitney share the answers to oodles of baby and toddler feeding questions in a warm and non-judgemental way, while offering a variety of choices for parents’ unique needs. Packed with fun recipes like Cheezy Broccoli Trees and Red Lentil Pizza Strips along with a plant-based plate visualiser, you’ll feel empowered. Angela Liddon
Alexandra Caspero is a registered dietitian nutritionist with more than 10 years experience counselling on plant-based diets and sports nutrition. Whitney English Tabaie is a registered dietitian nutritionist and journalist, who has reported on health and welness for over 10 years.
Feeding Your Vegan Child with Sandra
Feeding Your Vegan Child is the book to read, if you are concerned over the nutrients for your vegan child. Sandra Hood is a registered dietitian for the NHS, who specialises in creating safe and healthy vegan nutrition plans for families. The book addresses the myths around a vegan diet being unsuitable for a growing child, although of course you need some qualified expert advice, in order to safely raise a vegan child from pregnancy through to the teenage years, ensuring there is enough protein, calcium and other nutrients. The book includes:
- Practical advice on dietary essentials
- Menu planning
- Vegan family stories
- Common myths
- Key nutrients for pregnancy & breastfeeding
- Info on energy & Protein
- Info on essential fatty acids
- Info on calcium & vitamin D
Author Sandra Hood RD has a degree in dietetics from Leeds Metropolitan University and is a diabetes specialist dietitian for the NHS, as well as Honorary Nutrition Advisor to the Vegan Society. She has in the past produced Infant Case Histories to prove the efficacy and benefits of a plant-based diet for infants. She has been vegan for over 40 years and enjoys running, cooking and caring for animals.