If you are an adult Vegetarian you may be at odds, whether to introduce a vegetarian diet to your baby or child, it is a difficult decision and hopefully with the information given here it will make it a little easier for you. To start with, as a rule we know that the best food for newborns is breast milk. If for some reason you are unable to breastfeed, there are other options eg: soy formulas for those who plan to introduce their baby to a Vegan diet, or baby milk formulas for those vegetarians who consume dairy products. Do not use ordinary commercial soy milk or normal dairy powdered milk, most chemists stock excellent Soy or dairy baby formula.
Babies have special needs and require soy formulas that are developed for those needs. Infants do not need any nourishment other than breast milk, milk formula or soy formula for the first several months of life. Infants need about 2 hours a week of sunlight exposure to make vitamin D. Breast milk or infant formula should be given in their first year. At about 4 to 5 months of age, or when your baby’s weight has doubled, other foods can be added to the diet. Add one new food at a time, at one to two week intervals. The following guidelines provide a flexible plan for adding foods to your baby’s diet.
Hints to feeding babies in early infancy
Many 2 year old children are iron deficient due to a milk based diet. It is essential to introduce a variety of Soya, vegetables and fruits that will boost iron levels in small children. These are often best introduced mixed with baby cereals. Shortly after your child is able to digest cereal and purified vegetables, silken tofu is an excellent source of protein that is best added to fruits and vegetables. Avocado and potatoes are also almost complete foods, avocado is high in natural oil and is better not consumed in high quantities.
4 – 5 months
Introduce fruits first, try mashed bananas, avocados, strained peaches, or cooked apples and introduce iron-fortified infant cereal. Try rice cereal first since it is least likely to cause allergies, mix it with a little breast milk or soy formula. Introduce: ripe banana, avocado, papaya, mango, sweet potatoes, and/or yogurt. All food should be finely mashed or pureed, served once a day, breastfeeding or substitute still should be the main source of food.
5 – 6 1/2 MONTHS
Introduce: grains (rice, barley, millet, oatmeal), more vegetables (peas, lima beans, green beans, squash), more fruits and fruit juices. All foods should be pureed or fork mashed. Servings should be one or two varieties of foods at a meal, two meals a day, juice for a snack once a day (breastfeeding still substantial). Introduce silken tofu, stronger vegetables, such as cabbage, spinach, broccoli, kale, and collard greens. The main meal should be in pureed form and finger foods should be soft, pre soaked, dried fruits and bread pieces are good finger food.
6- 8 months
Introduce vegetables. They should be thoroughly cooked and mashed. potatoes, green beans, carrots and peas are all good first choices.By 8 months of age most babies can eat crackers, bread and cereals. By about 8 months, gradually introduce a wide range of foods from the 4 food groups. Beans should be cooked well and mashed. Soy milk, with added vitamin B12, should be introduced at 12 months of age.
9 – 12 months
Introduce: legumes, tofu, nut and seed pastes, cheese, bourghul, any other vegetables, fruits or grains that have not been previously introduced. Meals can be in less pureed form, but there should be no hard or large chunks, finger food can be chunkier. Three meals a day plus finger food snacks (breastfeeding twice a day) especially if no milk products are being given at meal.
Note: It is wise to read the label of everything you buy, you may be surprised at what you are eating. A code of additives from Consumer Affairs will explain the meaning of the additive codes printed on products.