Breastfeeding Your Vegan Baby

Requirements for vitamin A, vitamin C, and iodine are higher for breastfeeding mums than for pregnant women...

Requirements for vitamin A, vitamin C, and iodine are higher for breastfeeding mums than for pregnant women. So continue with a little iodized salt (or a supplement) and make sure you are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Some experts recommend that breastfeeding women take 300 micrograms of DHA + EPA per day.

It is absolutely crucial to continue with vitamin B12 supplements while you are breastfeeding. You and your baby both need B12 and you both can get it from the supplement you take.

 

Supplements for pregnant women:

  • Vitamin B12: 25 to 100 micrograms per day or 1,000 micrograms 2 to 3 times per week.
  • Iron, vitamin D and folic acid as needed. Talk to your doctor about these.
  • DHA/EPA: 300 micrograms from algae.
  • A few shakes of iodized salt or 90 micrograms several times a week

 

Supplements for breastfeeding women:

  • Vitamin B12: 25 to 100 micrograms daily or 1,000 micrograms two to three times per week.
  • DHA/EPA: 300 micrograms from algae.
  • Vitamin D as needed (talk to your doctor)
  • A few shakes of iodized salt or 90 micrograms several times a week

 

The Australian Breastfeeding Association is a great resource for anyone needing support with breastfeeding. Services include breastfeeding help line, education classes and social support groups. For more information contact them here: www.breastfeeding.asn.au or on 1800 686 268.

For further breastfeeding information please contact a vegan health professional

Formula

Currently all cow, goat and soy formulas in Australia have a lanolin derived (a fatty substance from sheep’s wool) vitamin D added.  As a formula option, soy formula causes the least amount of harm to animals in comparison to the other options available.

While we are aware of the issues surrounding formula options and the animal products they contain, we encourage parents to choose the most compassionate option for their family and the animals.

Nutrition for Babies

Whether or not a family is vegan, newborn infants have a diet of either breast milk or commercial infant formula. Unless your baby gets enough sun exposure (and it’s hard to know, since “enough” depends on your baby’s skin tone and the strength of the sun) he or she will need a supplement of vitamin D.* Your pediatrician will most likely prescribe 10 micrograms per day—the same amount that babies take in non-vegan households.

If your baby is not breastfed, he or she will need to consume a commercial infant formula like infant soy formula. Regular plant milks, including soymilk, are not adequate nutrition for infants. Nor are homemade formulas.

That’s it for the first four months—breast milk + vitamin D, or infant formula. As long as your diet is adequate and you are taking a vitamin B12 supplement, your milk will nourish your baby.

Between four and six months, your baby will start to consume some solid foods. Choose ones that are rich in iron, like iron-rich infant cereal. Depending on how much your baby is eating, GP/maternal and child health nurse (aus) or pediatrician (US) may recommend iron supplements. Again, this is true for breastfed infants of non-vegan mums, too.

Babies are generally ready to explore solid foods when they can sit unsupported and can pick up a food and put it in their mouth, sometime between four and six months of age.

Introduce one new food at a time to identify any allergies. Iron-fortified rice cereal is a great first food since rice is rarely allergenic. Mix it with breast milk or infant formula. If you make your own cereal by grinding up grains in a blender, be sure that your baby is getting an iron supplement.

Once your baby is enjoying a few different cereals, you can introduce soft (in the case of BLW) or pureed fruits, and vegetables. As your baby learns to chew, introduce soft pasta or rice, breads and dry cereals. By age 7 to 8 months, your baby will be ready for more protein-rich foods like well-mashed, well-cooked beans and mashed tofu. Nut and seed butters should be spread on bread or crackers to avoid choking.

Your baby will consume less milk or formula as he or she eats more solid foods but continue with breast milk or formula until at least the first birthday. At that time, your baby can start to drink fortified soy milk. (Other plant milks are too low in protein for babies and toddlers.)

*Uproar.org.au

 


Article by Ginny Kisch Messina, MPH, RD. For further information on vegan diets for kids please contact Ginny at www.theveganrd.com