Rafferty's Garden Baby Food Recipes

A Guide To Solids For Vegetarian Babies

Posted in 6+ Months, 6+ Months Development, 6+ Months Nutrition, Baby's First Foods, Introducing Solid Food, Mum and Baby, Nutritional Information

Vegetarianism is a popular choice for many families, and it is possible to raise your baby as a vegetarian; it just takes a little more care to ensure you meet their specific nutrition needs.

Here’s a few tips for how to do solids with a vegetarian baby.

Vegetarian ABCs

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The right nutrients in the right amounts are vital for your baby’s growth and development.

These nutrients require particular attention in the diet of vegetarian babies:

Protein: Protein from good non-meat sources is very important and provides the building blocks for your baby’s growth. This is the reason why lacto-ovo vegetarian diets are generally preferred for infants and young children. Find it in legumes, tofu, nuts, dairy, eggs and cereal grains.

Iron: Vital for development and healthy immune function, building baby’s iron stores with iron-rich foods is a key goal for all babies starting solids, vegetarian or otherwise. Find it in fortified infant cereals, legumes, tofu and dark green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin B12: Crucial for baby’s brain and nervous system development a dietary source of this vitamin is essential. Find it in dairy foods, eggs, fortified plant-based foods and beverages, and breast milk and infant formula.

Calcium: Good sources of dietary calcium are important throughout infancy, childhood and adolescence to ensure a strong skeleton. Find it in dairy foods, fortified cereals and plant-based beverages such as soy milk.

Energy: Adequate kilojoules for growth and development can be a challenge in the vegetarian diets of children so energy dense foods are important. Find them in healthy fats and oils such as avocado, nuts and nut butters and seed oils, full fat dairy foods, full fat plant-based beverages and dried fruits.

Vitamin C: Important for the efficient absorption of iron from plant-based foods, aim to include a vitamin C rich food at most meals. Find it in citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, capsicum and tomatoes.

Vegetarian top 5

Raffertys-Garden-Baby-Food-Legumes

1. Legumes
Lentils, chickpeas and all dried and canned beans are the iron-rich foods your baby needs to replenish dwindling iron stores. These foods blend well and can be combined with cereal or vegetable purees. They’re also soft enough to mash so help with the transition to lumpy and mashed textures.

2. Cereal grains
Iron fortified cereals are an important first food for vegetarian babies and work alongside legumes to build iron stores. Most grains are also a source of protein and the mineral zinc. Consider a variety of grains such as brown and white rice, oats and quinoa.

3. Tofu
A soft, mild-flavoured food that combines well with fruit or vegetables, tofu is a source of good quality protein, iron, zinc and calcium (variety dependent, check on pack nutrition information).

4. Dairy
An important source of protein for growth and the minerals calcium and zinc, dairy also supplies vitamin B12. For vegan families using plant-based dairy alternatives it’s vital they contain added calcium and vitamin B12.

5. Eggs
Highly nutritious, eggs are a good source of high quality, easily digested protein and vitamin B12. They also provide good amounts of iron, zinc, iodine and vitamin D and are a versatile easy to prepare food for infants and young children.

More on milk

Raffertys-Garden-Baby-Food-Breastfeeding

If you are planning on raising a vegetarian baby aim to breast feed for 12 months or more if you can. Plant based dairy alternatives such as soy, rice or oat beverages are not recommended as a drink for infants under 12 months. Vegetarian babies that progress to these from 12 months of age should drink full fat versions fortified with calcium and vitamin B12.

If you plan to raise a vegan baby, breast-feeding for two years or more is recommended, as is paying particular care to your own B12 intake. If you choose to wean your vegan baby before 2 years use a commercial soy-based infant formula as a milk drink alternative.

Looking for more little foodie tips? Check out our guide on how to raise a veggie lover and feeding baby whole foods.

About the Author

About the Author: Rafferty’s Garden is a brand brought to life by our love of good food and by our belief in ensuring Australian babies get an amazing start to their food journey. .

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