Want to bring up your baby as a veggie? It is possible – if you know how…
If you’re a vegetarian, it may feel completely natural to bring up your weaning baby on a meat-free diet, too. And while it does mean your baby’s diet needs to be carefully managed to make sure he gets enough of everything he needs, it’s perfectly possible. As it’s World Vegetarian Day, we thought we’d show you how.
Getting enough protein and iron
It’s essential that you make sure your baby gets enough protein and iron – which we often get from meat or fish. But these nutrients are available elsewhere…
Dark vegetables, bread, beans, lentils, cereal and dried fruit are all great sources of iron, so encourage your baby to eat these as purees or finger food each day. If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll be familiar with Quorn and tofu – two products filled with protein that are absolutely fine for your baby to have, too.
Iron is an important nutrient that needs to be replaced in the diets of vegetarian children. ‘Nuts are a good source of iron as well as other important nutrients,’ says child nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed. ‘But the NHS recommends not giving these to babies before six months of age and also to check with your GP before giving them if there is a history of allergy in their immediate family.’
Maintain a varied diet
Your baby will need to have lots of nutrients from different foods. So, it can be a good idea to try your baby with smaller and more frequent main meals with snacks in between, to hit that nutrition quota.
Aim for your baby to eat something from the following four food groups every day;
Fruit and vegetables: As a brilliant source of vitamins and minerals, try to get your baby to eat a variety of colours and varieties at each meal time.
Dairy food: Milk is vital, even for your weaning baby. Cheese and yoghurt are also perfect vegetarian options for him, to boost his calcium levels.
Protein foods: Well-cooked eggs, beans, pulses, soya and nuts should be given to your little one twice a day
Starchy foods: Too much fibre isn’t ideal for your baby, as it can stop calcium and iron being absorbed, so instead try lots of white bread, pasta and rice at this stage as well as wholemeal versions.
Serve energy-rich foods
Avocado, bananas and hummus are fantastic for your vegetarian baby, as there are bursting with energy that will keep your baby full of beans. Plus, they’re all easy to mush up for your weaning baby to eat.