Originally published February 9 2009
Vegan Baby Basics and Beyond
by Sye Rodriguez
(NaturalNews) If you have made the choice to center your and your baby's diet around plant based whole foods, then congratulations. You have chosen an educational and life transforming path. It has been shown that an optimal diet for people is one that is centered on this. If you do it right you can expect many benefits. To get the most from this diet, be sure your baby gets plenty of calories from a wide variety of whole food sources. This is the best way to insure sufficient proteins as well as other nutrients.
In the first six months of life a baby should be nursing, and will receive the very best form of nutrition this way. Breastfeeding provides optimal immune protection, and reduces risks of allergies. It also reduces the risks of illnesses, not to mention that it is a bonding experience for the mother and baby. It is recommended, that if a substitute must be made, only an iron-fortified formula would suffice. Look for vegan organic formulas. You can find them at most health food stores or buy them from online health sources.
When your baby is ready to eat solids they will usually tell you by reaching for what your eating or staring at your food. Start out with blended and pureed foods. Give your baby one new food at a time, and don't add any thing new for a few days after. This will allow you to see if your baby has an allergic reaction to any new food. Start feeding your baby solids once per day, and gradually increase to 3-4 times per day. A normal serving for veggies and fruit would be 2-4 tablespoons, and for cereal grains, about 1 tablespoon to start, increasing to 1/4 to 1/2 cup over time.
Iron fortified rice cereal is a good starter food for babies. You can find a good organic brand. Some good cooked foods, for pureeing, are squash, carrots, peas, yams, beans that are well cooked, tofu, and whole grains. Most fruits and veggies, in their raw state, are excellent for babies. For a baby under 12 months pureed fruit or veggies are perfect foods.
One great way to get in some good fruits and veggies is by making green smoothies. Mix fruit and greens together in the blender with a little filtered water. These smoothies taste great and will give you and your baby perfect blends of nutrients. They are loaded with electrolyte minerals, which help to keep the body hydrated and aid in recovery from exercise. Our baby's first solid food was one of these smoothies, and he still eats them very consistently at 16 months old. Banana's blended with parsley or mixed baby greens, and a little water, make great green smoothies. Some times throw some Chlorella in for added nutritional benefits. Our baby eats his chlorella in tablet form like they would be candy.
You can introduce finger foods to your baby at around 9 months. They should be soft and/or easily dissolve in your baby's mouth. At 1 year old your baby will be ready to eat a lot of foods in their whole form like you do. For safety, it would be wise to peel the skins off of apples, and make sure nuts and seeds are blended or pureed to prevent choking.
Legumes, tofu, millet, quinoa, and wild or brown rice are good sources for carbohydrates and proteins. Brewer's yeast, chlorella and spirulina are very high in protein. It is also good to keep in mind, that protein, in its amino acid components, is in pretty much every plant. If you give your baby enough calories from a variety of whole foods, you can be confident in knowing he/she is getting enough.
Avocados, olives, olive oil, flax oil, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and pure extra virgin unrefined coconut oil are some good fat sources. Higher amounts of fats are needed for babies than adults. As long as they are good sources your baby will benefit from them. A wide variety of fresh organic fruits and veggies provide ample amounts of carbohydrates, amino acids, minerals and vitamins.
Let your baby or toddler eat super foods. Your baby will love them and they are loaded with nutrients. One good example of a super food is goji berries. They are one of the highest sources of vitamin C in the world, and are very high in beta-carotene; the plant is based in vitamin A, as well. They contain all of the amino acids required by the human body to form complete proteins. Gojis contain a significant amount of iron in addition to a complex of 20 other minerals. They even help the body to produce more HGH. You can soak them or eat them dry. If your baby is under 1 year old, soak the berries and throw them in the blender with a little water. Chlorella and Spirulina are other great examples of super foods.
Let babies decide when they are finished eating. They will eat more and less different days. They may not want to eat as much if they are teething or not feeling well. This is the time to encourage fluids, of which most should be water. Fresh juice is great mixed with an equal amount of water, as long as it is not much more than 4 ounces per day, because of its high sugar content. Make sure your food is organic quality or better. Organic foods are generally much higher in nutrients.
Some important nutrients to support your vegan baby's optimal health are Vitamin B12, DHA and Vitamin D. These 3 are the least easily acquired through a vegan diet. Some good plant based sources of Vitamin B12 are chlorella, sea veggies, and nutritional or brewer's yeast. Don't hesitate to give a B12 supplement to your toddler if you are concerned they are not getting enough from food.
Get plenty of sunshine. At least 10 to 15 minutes a day to get plenty of vitamin D. In the plant kingdom there are no sources that we know of that contain vitamin D. Until we know better get a supplement for when you and your baby are not getting enough Sun. The vegan source would be D2. Recent findings have shown it to be as effective as D3 in maintaining proper serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. You can get vitamin D3 that comes from the lanolin in sheep's wool. In this case it's not plant based, however it is animal friendly.
Give yourself and your baby plenty of omega 3s from great sources. Omega 3's are an essential fatty acid that your body needs but does not create itself. They are also known as alpha linolenic acids. Good sources are flax seeds that you have blended, or flax oil, green leafy veggies, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, and chlorella. Our bodies can synthesize alpha linolenic acid (omega 3s) into DHA, which is essential for optimal health. This process is said to be most effective if you consume less omega 6s, such as sunflower oil, safflower oil, and corn oil. If you want to play it safe get a vegan DHA supplement that it is derived from marine micro algae. Some people consider Phytoplankton and Krill to be vegan friendly sources for this nutrient.
Going beyond the basics for your vegan baby, here are a couple more tips for optimal health. Play with your baby. Take the time out to see what they have to show you. Be patient and loving with them. Know that they will do anything to get your love, and that is mostly what your baby wants. Brian Tracy talks about this on his tape series, " The Psychology of Achievement." He also mentions that it's not just quality time, but quantity of time, that shows your baby or toddler you love them. They will be more relaxed and confident after a little focused attention and eye contact.
Set up a routine that benefits you and your baby. You can do this one step at a time and change it as you learn what works best, or to see what else might be good. We started a nightly meditation and teatime with our baby. The only rule during meditation is that we don't talk. Our baby usually does and that's fine. He loves meditation time and even starts pulling out pillows to sit on when the time draws near. Right before bed he gets to drink a little baby safe tea or water from his stainless steal sippy cup. These routines can be fun, and they give you and your baby something to look forward to.
Good teas for babies are rooibos and chamomile. IF you are a nursing or pregnant mother try a blend of raspberry leaf, stinging nettles, and alfalfa. This combination is toning to the uterus and increases breast milk production.
Now you are armed with the basics for your vegan baby. Go out and apply this valuable information and learn more as you go. It is fun and life enriching to take on these kinds of responsibilities.
Bonefeld-Jorgensen EC, Moller SM, Hansen JC at http://www.bio-sources.com/omega3,
Vitamin D2 is as effective as vitamin D3 in maintaining concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D at
Introducing Solids: Feeding vegan babies by Erin Pavlina at http://www.vegfamily.com/babies-and-toddlers...
Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis, R.D. and Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.,
Raising Vegetarian Children by Joanne Stepaniak, M.S.Ed. And Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.
The Psychology of Achievement by Brian Tracy
Vegan Society at http://www.vegansociety.com/food/nutrition/
About the authorSye Rodriguez is a massage therapist and small business owner in the town of Telluride, Colorado. He is a health and truth seeker who has abundant practical experience in the areas of vegan food nutrition, simple living, self help, shopping for the highest quality organic foods, and functional exercise. Some of his hobbies include frisbee golf, break dancing, singing, journaling and playing with his toddler. He has founded a company called Just Organics that sells organic foods and environmentally friendly products in the town of Telluride. He has a website at www.organicadventureshow.com
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