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Feeding your baby

Vegetarian baby

Having first offered your baby vegetables, fruit and rice, you can then move on to meat, chicken, fish (no bones), lentils and well cooked pulses.

If, at this point, you intend to bring up your child as a vegetarian or vegan, it is important to find alternatives to meat which will provide all the necessary nutrients for your baby.

These are the tricky areas:

• Zinc and iron - red meat is rich in these essential minerals, but you can also get them from egg yolk, soya, oatmeal, wholemeal bread, dried fruit and green leafy vegetables. Offer fortified breakfast cereals with your baby's usual milk or iron-fortified soya milk. A source of vitamin C offered with meals will increase iron absorption.

• Vitamin B6 - used to metabolise protein and often found in meat. It's also found in milk, blackstrap molasses, egg yolks, cabbages and kale. If taken as a vitamin supplement, it should be also taken with the other B vitamins.

• Vitamin B12 - vegans in particular are in danger of missing out on this essential vitamin, which is only available in milk, cheese, eggs and meat. Marmite is a source, but it contains too much salt for a baby's kidneys. Ask your health visitor for advice.

• Vitamin A - babies need vitamin A, which is best found in egg yolks, butter, liver and shellfish, but it's also in egg yolk and full-fat milk and cheese

• Protein - offer a wide variety of pulses - butter beans, lentils, chick peas - and grains - such as rice, cereals and pasta. Tofu, made from soya milk, and tahini, or sesame seed paste, are also good sources of protein and minerals.

Continued breastfeeding is especially important for vegan babies in order to supply protein, calcium and other nutrients.
You can get more information and support from:
The Vegetarian Society 0161 925 2000
The Vegan Society 01424 427393

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