Dr Ellie Cannon: Will baby thrive on vegan diet or will it stunt her growth?
Dailymail find out It is good for baby to eat vegan
My sister recently gave birth and has decided to feed her baby daughter a vegan diet. I read a report from a doctor who said that this could stunt her growth. Should I be worried?
Many babies are fed a restricted diet either due to allergies, cultural reasons or personal choice. It can take more effort, but growth does not need to be compromised. If a mother is raising a child on a vegan diet, breastfeeding should be a priority to ensure a good quantity of energy-rich nutrients and essential fats.
Weaning a baby on to solid foods would take some careful thought. Babies need two portions of protein-rich food a day – this could be beans, chickpeas or houmous within baby purees.
Babies need lots of energy and calories too, and often vegan food can be higher in fibre but lower in calories.
Although wholegrains are healthy, they can fill a child up before they have taken in enough calories. Offering white bread or rice can be a good way to counteract this.
Important nutrients may not be easy to come by in a vegan diet. Iron is particularly important and is found in fortified cereals, dark green vegetables, beans and lentils.
Calcium – abundant in milk – is vital for growing bones. It is found in fortified foods as well as leafy green vegetables, broccoli and okra.
Vitamin B12, which is animal-derived, will need to be taken as a supplement or in fortified foods such as soya yogurt. The Department of Health recommends that children aged between six months and five years are given Vitamin A, C and D supplements and breastfed babies given Vitamin D drops from birth.